2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

2018 FIFA World Cup™ 

Nigeria, Egypt seize inside track

Algeria's midfielder Nabil Bentaleb (R) challenges Nigeria's midfielder Victor Moses

THE MATCHDAY REPLAYED –Algeria surprisingly struggled as the Super Eagles flew high, while Herve Renard wasn't able to lead his new side to a win against his old one. Top striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Panthers failed to find the net, again, while South Africa rose to see off a Senegalese challenge. FIFA.com looks back at an action-packed second match day in the group phase of the FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in Africa.

Group A: Guinea 1-2 Congo DR, Libya 0-1 Tunisia
Group B: Cameroon 1-1 Zambia, Nigeria 3-1 Algeria
Group C: Morocco 0-0 Côte d'Ivoire, Mali 0-0 Gabon
Group D: South Africa 2-1 Senegal, Cape Verde Islands 0-2 Burkina Faso
Group E:Uganda 1-0 Congo, Egypt 2-0 Ghana

Match of the day
Nigeria 3-1 Algeria*
Moses 24, 90+2, Mikel 42; Bentaleb 67*
Having missed out on qualifying for next year's CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Nigerian fans expect their team to make it to Russia. That did not change even when the Super Eagles were drawn into the so-called Group of Death, where just about every game is like a final. This time around the west Africans faced Algeria and Victor Moses gave the home side the lead midway through the first half. They went into the break two goals to the good when Mikel John Obi added a second just before the break. After pulling one back through Nabil Bentaleb in the second half, Algeria threw everything forward searching for an equaliser, allowing Nigeria chances on the break. Moses made the most of one of them in injury time by scoring his second and putting the game beyond the visitors.

The other match in Group B saw Zambia bounce back strongly after losing their opening game at home to Nigeria. The Chipolopolo took the lead in Cameroon through veteran Collins Mbesuma in the first half, but they gave away a penalty in first-half injury time. The Zambians held onto the draw after the break to keep their hopes of a trip to Russia alive. The results see Nigeria open a four-point lead at the top of the group from Cameroon, with Algeria and Zambia each on one point.

In Group C, both matches ended goalless as Herve Renard's two last teams: Morocco and Côte d'Ivoire played each other. Rather diplomatically the game ended without a winner, which keeps the Elephants' run of 25 games without a World Cup qualifying defeat alive. Gabon and Mali also failed to find the net, leaving the Ivorians atop the group with four points from Gabon and Morocco who both have two points.

Egypt took control of Group E as they secured a 2-0 win against Ghana's Black Stars, who are considered their main rivals for the ticket to Russia. Surprisingly Uganda are now second behind the Pharaohs, who have won both their matches. The Cranes secured a 1-0 win against Congo, with Farouk Miya scoring the only goal of the game. Uganda have four points, while Ghana have just one.

England-based Yannick Bolasie and Neeskens Kebano scored in the second half to give Congo DR a dramatic 2-1 come-back victory in Guinea, for whom Seydou Soumah opened the scoring with a penalty midway through the first half. The win sees the Leopards move to the top of Group A alongside Tunisia, who won a North African derby against Libya 1-0. Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal of the match from the spot shortly after the break.

In Polokwane, South Africa's Thulani Hlatshwayo accepted the call of taking a penalty and opened the scoring from the spot. Thulani Serero added the second just three minutes later, and although Senegal pulled one back midway through the second half through substitute Cheikh Ndoye, it was too little too late. South Africa picked up the three points to see them top Group Dwith Burkina Faso, who won 2-0 in the Cape Verde Islands. Both teams have four points, while Senegal have three.

Player of the weekend
Not long ago, Mohamed Salah was considered a promising talent in Egyptian football as he embarked on a career in Europe, first signing with Basel before joining Chelsea. He struggled to get regular playing time with the Blues and moved first to Fiorentina and then to Roma, joining the club from the capital on a permanent move earlier this year. Since then he has been on fire and eight goals in 11 matches for his club are certainly something to be proud of. When Egypt were awarded a penalty against Ghana shortly before the break, the 24-year-old took on the responsibility and made no mistake. It was merely the highlight of an excellent performance.

The number 0 – Having one of the best strikers in the world in your side is obviously no guarantee for goals as Gabon captain Aubameyang has failed to find the net in their matches so far, drawing 0-0 with both Morocco and Mali.

Did you know?
Seven of the Egyptian players who featured for the Pharaohs against Ghana were not even born the last time their country made it to the World Cup finals. The 2-0 win leaves the North Africans in a strong position to qualify for Russia.

What they said
“One thing is for sure, we have not been eliminated. It will be difficult to qualify for the World Cup, but nothing has been decided yet. We were slightly better than Nigeria in the second half, but we were not lucky.”
Algeria coach Georges Leekens.

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