Nigeria have been drawn to square up against Cape Verde, Central African Republic (CAR) and Liberia in the qualifying race for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar.
Nigeria first game comes up against the Lone Star of Liberia, who reached this stage after shoving neighbours Sierra Leone in the first round in October.
African champions, Algeria head Group A and will have two interesting games against the Etalons of Burkina Faso, with Niger Republic and Djibouti also in the pool.
Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles head Group B which also has Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea, but the presence of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire in Group D makes that pool most interesting. They are joined by Mozambique and Malawi.
Meanwhile, Group E looks the most evenly set, with Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda –none of which had been to the FIFA World Cup previously.
Group G is also mouth-watering, as Ghana, quarter finalists at the only FIFA World Cup finals to have been hosted on African soil, face the country that hosted that finals in 2010, South Africa, as well as Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
Certainly, Group J is similarly something to savour, as Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin Republic and Madagascar are joined by Tanzania.
Each of the 40 teams will play two matches each towards the end of this year, with the remaining four matches coming up next year. The third and final round of the qualifiers will see the 10 winners of the pools drawn into five explosive home-and-away fixtures that will produce Africa’s flagbearers in Qatar. Those knockout games come up in November 2021.
Speaking on the draws, Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr, has advised that Eagles must be focused and be at their best to make it out of their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying group.
“We have three tricky opponents in Group C. A few years ago, Cape Verde were Africa’s best FIFA ranked team, CAR have some good players in Europe and we played a friendly in Liberia recently that was not easy. We have to be at our best against them,” Rohr said.
Rohr will be hoping to be the first foreign manager to qualify Nigeria for FIFA world cup twice, having led the three time African Champions to the last edition in Russia back in 2018.
The qualifiers will get under way in October, with the pool stage completed 12 months later.
The 10 group winners will then face-off in November 2021, with the five victors of those knockout matches sealing a place at 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.