The CAF version of World Cup qualifying appears to be a tough qualifying route for Africa’s biggest teams with only five nations making it through to the football Mundial, from a starting point of 54. After an initial qualifying period, 40 teams are split into 10 groups with only the winners reaching the Third Round – with the likes of Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, South Africa, and Guinea all dropping out.
There were also some tough draws in the Third and final round, including Ghana against Nigeria. The first pulsating first leg clash between these two sides finished goalless on Friday, which means the Blacks stars of Ghana have the slightest of advantages going into the second leg.
Although UEFA’s club competitions have got rid of the away goals rule, it still stands in most international qualifying tournaments around the world, including the CAF qualifying route. So, having kept a clean sheet at home, the Ghanaians know even scoring one goal would pile the pressure on Nigeria and the Black Stars would progress with any score draw.
It was no real surprise that the first leg was a tight fixture as both Nigeria and Ghana advanced through their groups with 13 points from six games, winning four, drawing one, and losing once. Ghana were only ranked as the lower team, getting the first leg at home, as a result of their goal difference against Nigeria. This will be an equally tight encounter but someone has to win to book their place in Qatar.
Although Nigeria and Ghana are blessed with attacking talent, they have also been strong defensively in World Cup qualifying. Both sides conceded just three goals in their six group stage games and never let in more than one in a single match. Then, of course, there’s the goalless draw just a few days ago.
As previously stated, Ghana have the advantage going into this game knowing that a score draw would be enough for them to qualify for the World Cup. They had a slightly better performance in the first leg and dealt with the threat of Victor Osimhen well and will take confidence from it.
Neither Victor Osimhen nor Samuel Chukwueze were involved in Nigerian training as recently as Saturday, while there are also doubts over the condition of both Zaidu Sansui and Midfielder Innocent Bonke.
For Ghana, Roma forward Felix Afena-Gyan is believed to have recovered from the injury that forced him off in the first leg encounter.
Nigeria head into this fixture following on from a 0-0 WC Qualifiers - Africa tied result versus Ghana. Their more recent scoreline shows that quality has been evident in the Nigeria backline. Nigeria have been stingy, with the tally of goals that have gone in at their end during their past 6 matches standing at 3. It will be interesting to see whether or not that trend can be continued into this next match.
The strike force from Ghana have failed to get amongst the goals over their previous 6 clashes, recording the poor return of just 4. In those matches, Black Stars have also seen the collective goal aggregate of their opponents equal 8.
It must be said that Ghana will be right up against it to make much of an impression against a Nigerian outfit who have the ability and required technicality to dominate this encounter.
Our tip is for a very comprehensive 2-0 winning margin which could even be higher for Nigeria by the time the full-time whistle blows.