On Friday evening, Nigeria moved a step close towards picking the sole ticket from Group B of the Africa qualifying zone, by defeating Cameroon 4-0.
Odion Ighalo and John Mikel Obi gave the Super Eagles a two-goal lead in the first half, before Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho added more goals after the break.
Here are the five things we learnt from the game:
1. Your captain, Mikel Obi reporting for duty
It was easy to see what the team missed when Mikel Obi was not in the side. The prescient passing, the elegant movement and that cutting edge. The Tianjin TEDA midfielder was involved in the first two goals, setting up Odion Ighalo for the first and scoring the second himself.
2. The ‘returnees’ bring back the spark
Not just Mikel Obi. Ighalo and Victor Moses, who were returning to the squad after missing the game against South Africa, sprinkled some stardust. Ighalo was a menacing presence for the Cameroonian defenders, who struggled to match his power and pace. Moses rampaged down the wings, got himself a goal and a standing ovation from the grateful Uyo crowd.
3. Rohr’s fine record
The victory means that Gernot Rohr has only lost one game in charge of Nigeria. And that was the miserable showing against the Bafana Bafana. Not only were Nigerian fans satisfied wit three points, they were gushing about the remarkable quality of football on display, although the African champions didn’t offer much.
4. Uyo is not jinxed after all
So maybe we can bury this talk of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium being a cursed ground for the national team. At the end of the day, results are a product of effort. And Friday’s performance was outstanding.
5. One point in Yaounde would do
Nigeria remain top of Group B with 9 points, seven more than the Indomitable Lions, who they travel to Yaounde to face in the reverse leg on Monday. If the Eagles can come back with one point, it would be a good result and their place in Russia would be virtually assured