Nigeria will play Zambia’s Chipolopolo, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions and Algeria’s Fennecs in the final round of qualification series for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
Just one of Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria, who featured at both South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 World Cups, will grab the ticket to Russia, which means two of the teams will miss out, and if Zambia pull a surprise, none of the three favourites will make it to Russia.
The draw conducted at the Cairo Marriott Hotel put all former African champions in the same Group B, with reigning continental champions Cote d’Ivoire to tackle Gabon, Mali and Morocco in Group C.
Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles head Group A that also includes Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea, and Ghana’s Black Stars will do battle with the Pharaohs of Egypt, Congo’s Red Devils and Uganda’s Cranes in Group E.
Senegal’s Teranga Lions, which reached the World Cup quarter –finals in its debut in 2002, head Group D that also includes South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, Burkina Faso’s Etalons and Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks.
Algeria knocked Nigeria out of the race to the 1982 FIFA World Cup, but Nigeria also overpowered Algeria to qualify for the 1994 finals in USA.
Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0 to lift her first –ever Africa Cup of Nations title, on home soil in 1980, but the Fennecs avenged by beating the Eagles 1-0 to also nick their first African title, on home soil, ten years later.
Cameroon stopped Nigeria from reaching the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals, winning 1-0 in Yaounde in a group contest even though Nigeria won the home leg 2-0 in Ibadan. In Yaounde, only weeks after the death of Samuel Okwaraji, Nigeria needed a draw to shove aside the Lions but lost 1-0.
In a friendly in Belgium in October last year, the Super Eagles steamrolled the Lions 3-0.
Libya, Guinea, DR Congo, Tunisia
Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria
Gabon, Morocco, Mali, Ivory Coast
Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cape Verde, Senegal
Uganda, Congo, Egypt, Ghana