Round two of the 2022 World Cup African qualifiers has reached the business end following the conclusion of matchdays three and four.
Senegal and Morocco have already sealed their place in the final playoff round, but the other eight group winners will be determined in next month’s international break.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are currently one of the eight group leaders, but they suffered a minor setback in the latest round of games.
The three-time African champions suffered a shock home defeat to the Central African Republic before gaining revenge with a 2-0 win in the reverse leg in Douala, Cameroon.
What’s the state of play in Nigeria’s group?
It is important to note that only the ten group winners will progress to the playoff round, which would see them drawn against each other in a two-legged match to determine the five Africa representatives in Qatar.
At the moment, the Super Eagles sit on top of Group C with nine points, but that loss to CAR has allowed Cape Verde to reduce the lead to two points.
Before this month’s international break, the Super Eagles were three points clear at the top, with Cape Verde sitting in the bottom position with one point.
But the Blue Sharks were able to capitalise on Nigeria’s loss by beating Liberia home and away to take control of the second spot with seven points.
What do the Super Eagles need to qualify for the playoff round?
Nigeria still control their own fate, but they cannot afford any slip up going into the final two games. Luckily for Gernot Rohr’s men, they can book their spot if they beat Cape Verde in their next game at home.
This is because a win will take them to 12 points, and with just one match left, they will be out of reach. However, a draw will see the battle for the top spot go to the final game, while a loss could be catastrophic.
The three-time African champions take on Liberia away from home in the last game, while Cape Verde host the Central African Republic.
But to avoid any drama going into the final game, the Super Eagles will need to beat the Blue Sharks in Lagos.
What about the playoff rounds?
The draw for the playoff rounds will take place after the final group matches next month. The top five teams in the FIFA rankings will be seeded and play away from home in the first leg.
And at the moment, Nigeria are the fifth-highest ranked side in Africa and will therefore be seeded should they make it to the playoff round.