Rohr cautious as Nigeria draws Cape Verde, CAR, Liberia

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By Morakinyo Abodunrin

German coach Gernot Rohr said the Super Eagles have the strength in depth to weather the storm  and ensure progress after Nigeria  was drawn against Cape Verde, Central African Republic (CAR) and Liberia in the penultimate round of the qualifying race for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar.

At a simple but colourful ceremony inside The Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo, Egypt yesterday, conducted by CAF’s Director of Competitions Samson Adamu, Ivorian Clementine Toure and 1998 FIFA World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, the 40 teams remaining in the race on the African continent were drawn into 10 groups of four teams each, with Nigeria heading Group C.

Reacting to the draws yesterday, Rohr told NationSport from France that the group is delicately balanced but insisted the Super Eagles would advance to the next round with dint of hard work.

“We have to be careful and prepare well because it is still a very tough group,” the 67-year-old former Bayern Munich defender said.

Super Eagles

“All the groups are difficult; perhaps we are the favourites in this group but we have to be careful with Cape Verde, Liberia and even Central African Republic because they are all good teams and it won’t be easy to beat them.

“But I’m confident of our young team and we can progress by working hard.

“It won’t be easy but we just have to finish first because we still have more matches before we can qualify for Qatar 2022.

“It’s going to be hard, long way to Qatar but I believe in our team; and I’m very confident,” added Rohr.  Meanwhile, just like they will fly westward twice in their remaining campaign for a place at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Freetown, Sierra Leone and Cotonou, Benin Republic), the Eagles will fly westward twice in the race to Qatar (Praia, Cape Verde and Monrovia, Liberia).

Nigeria’s first game, coming up in October this year, will be against the Lone Star of Liberia, who reached this stage after shoving neighbours Sierra Leone in the first round.

African champions Algeria head Group A and will have two interesting games against the Etalons of Burkina Faso, with Niger Republic and Djibouti also in the pool.

Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles head Group B which also has Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea, but the presence of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire in Group D makes that pool most interesting. They are joined by Mozambique and Malawi.

Group E looks the most evenly set, with Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda –none of which had been to the FIFA World Cup previously.

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Group G is also mouth-watering, as Ghana, quarter finalists at the only FIFA World Cup finals to have been hosted on African soil face the country that hosted that finals in 2010, South Africa, as well as Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

Certainly, Group J is similarly something to savour, as Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin Republic and Madagascar are joined by Tanzania.

Each of the 40 teams will play two matches each towards the end of this year, with the remaining four matches coming up next year. The third and final round of the qualifiers will see the 10 winners of the pools drawn into five explosive home-and-away fixtures that will produce Africa’s flag bearers in Qatar. Those knockout games come up in November 2021.

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