Club football will take the backseat this week and next, as countries attempt to qualify for next year’s Qatar World cup. Nigeria faces two of its African neighbours, Liberia and Cape Verde on September 3rd and 7th respectively. As fans’ attention shift to national teams, betBonanza brings its customers an analysis of Nigeria’s chances in the upcoming two ties.
Nigeria vs Liberia
No football tie at the senior level is easy, but this one should be for Nigeria. Liberia has never qualified for World cup. And while there is always a first time – Nigeria’s was 1994 – we do not expect Liberia to be technically capable enough to ride on Nigeria into their maiden world cup qualification. Again, while the Lone Stars are still toiling to experience a first appearance on the global soccer stage, Nigeria has been there a record six times, more than any other country in the continent except Cameroun. Nigeria only missed it once – in 2006 – since their first appearance in the United States 27 years ago.
But these are not Nigeria’s only advantage over Liberia. The Super Eagles have won the Lone Stars 9 times - losing only thrice to them - in the 14 times they have met. That is a 64% win record, as against Liberia’s 21%. The pair drew twice.
This impressive statistics boils down to the fundamentals: Nigeria has, over the years, produced more top rate footballing personnel than Liberia. And, right now, that fact has not changed. As at today, there is no known Liberian player in any one of the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Seria A or Ligue 1 – the five topmost domestic leagues in Europe. Conversely, there are at least 26 Nigerians playing in these five leagues combined. The skill for top-level competitive football is acquired from top-level competitive leagues. It is therefore not a surprise that Nigeria has historically performed better than Liberia.
Already, there are twenty players in the Nigerian camp, out of which only one plies his trade in the Nigerian league. The remaining 19 play abroad, and at least ten of them are in the top five global leagues. Liberia does not have such cast of star players among their personnel.
But there is an angle through which the Lone Stars can stand up to Nigeria and possibly defeat them: their manager, Peter Butler. He is most noted for building solid teams, even without remarkable individual talents. He did this in Botswana, where he managed the national team for three years and nearly qualified them for a second African Nations cup tournament in their history. But that was not to be, as a last minute deflected goal fell them to Senegal’s decades-old experience. Butler’s teams play exciting, determined football. And his current Liberian side will be attempting to shock the Super Eagles or, at least, limit the damage from the star-studded Nigerian opponents.
But whatever Peter Butler is to Liberia, Gernot Rohr also is to Nigeria, and more. He has spent five years with the national team and got it stabilized. He has qualified the country for every major tournament since his arrival in 2016. One year after his appointment, his Nigerian side became the first in Africa to qualify for the 2018 World cup. When he qualified Nigeria for next year’s African Cup of Nations, we still had two games outstanding. Now, that’s quite a record. It is for these that betBonanza’s bookmakers give Nigeria a whopping 90% chance of winning the encounter!
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Cape Verde vs Nigeria
Nigeria’s least populated state, Bayelsa, is more than three times Cape Verde’s 550,000 population. That is how small the country is. So it follows, then, that Nigeria has more people from whom it can pull its national team than Cape Verde. It also suggests Nigeria has the incentives to pick only the best of the best, as there is abundance of humans. Cape Verde is not this lucky. Add that to their inexperience at world cup qualification, having never qualified before, and you see the odds stacked against them.
Yet, this is a team to be wary of. In March this year, they shocked everyone by defeating 3-1 the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, a country known for its soccer exploits across generations. That is not an easy feat. It deserves special attention. Cape Verde is gradually emerging an African soccer power, and should never be taken for granted.
The first leg of the Cape Verde and Nigeria encounter will be played away next week Thursday, and it compounds the game’s prospects for toughness. The Super Eagles’ mental preparation for that encounter has to be totally different. They will have to show respect to them, and play them with a winning plan.
But betBonanza bookmakers are strongly of the belief that the Super Eagles will leave that encounter with a win or a draw; not a defeat.
Now, over to you. What would be your own predictions for these matches? If you are convinced about the outcomes you foresee, you might as well bet.