Another football nightmare awaits soccer loving Nigerians as the country’s chances of reaching the 2018 World Cup in Russia depends on if they can navigate past their old rivals and neighbor Cameroon, North Africa’s football heavyweight, Algeria. In the other hand, Zambia is also a hard nut to crack.
The draw for the group phase of 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Africa was made on Friday. The 20 African countries that made it to the final qualifying phase were drawn into five groups with four teams in each group, with the group winners securing a place at the 2018 Russia finals.
Nigeria was drawn in Group B with Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia, and with only the winners of each four-team group making it through to the tournament in Russia, this group is by far the most difficult.
Nigeria, Algeria and Cameroon all qualified for the 2014 World Cup but at least two of them will miss out next time after the draw was made at CAF’s headquarters in Cairo on Friday.
The 20 African nations were sorted into five groups for the final stage of qualifying and will play each side in their pool home-and-away over the course of the campaign.
Ghana made it to the last World Cup and they have been drawn in Group E with Egypt, Congo and Uganda.
The other team who qualified last time around were African Cup of Nations winners Ivory Coast, who were drawn with Gabon, Mali and Morocco in Group C.
South Africa and Senegal will go head-to-head in Group D, with Cape Verde and Burkina Faso also in that section, while Group A is made up of Tunisia, Libya, DR Congo and Guinea.
Prior to the draw, respects were paid to former Nigerian manager Stephen Keshi, who passed away earlier this month.
Under the leadership of Keshi, Nigeria were the only African side to make it through the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, losing 2-0 to France in the last 16.
Group A: Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Libya, Tunisia
Group B: Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zambia.
Group C: Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco .
Group D: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, South Africa.
Group E: Congo, Ghana, Egypt, Uganda.
Qualifying matches start in October and will be played through until November 2017.
The group winners qualify for the World Cup in Russia.