Nigeria vs Zambia World Cup: Nigeria book their place in the World Cup
Alex Iwobi scored a second-half winner as Nigeria became the first African nation to qualify for the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Zambia in Uyo on Saturday.
The win moved Nigeria to 13 points and an unassailable lead at the top of Group B with one round of qualification matches to be played next month.
The Arsenal striker netted with a neat finish inside the box on 73 minutes of an open contest in which Wilfred Ndidi and Simon Moses had earlier missed good chances to ease the nerves of the home side.
Nigeria have now qualified for six of the last seven World Cup finals, missing out only in 2006. They reached the second round in Brazil in 2014, before losing 2-0 to France in Brasilia.
Nigeria vs Zambia live stream online: as it happened
90'+3' GAME OVER! Nigeria through to the World Cup.
90'+3' That's surely it. A strike wide by Nigeria and just 30 second sleft. Zambia need two goals. Nigeria's subs clearly think they're through as they jump up and down on the sideline.
90'+1' Substitute Ching'andu booked for a late tackle on Troost-Ekong.
90' Nigeria with the chance to finish it for once and for all. Ball comes in from the left to Moses and he whiffs at it. He had the goal at his mercy. But it bobbled over his foot.
90' Zambia still struggling to get forward.
88' Mulenga replaced by Chingandu.
87' No, that's not going to do it either. Obi Mikel climbed on and dragged to the ground.
85' Not getting any easier for Zambia. Another effort this time by Kapumbu goes over the bar.
81' Zambia getting desperate now but they remain locked out! Nigeria not giving them a look at goal. They still haven't really carved a proper chance.
80' Nigeria fans absolutelu bouncing in the stadium now. They're going to the World Cup (as it stands).
75' 15 left for Zambia to save their World Cup hopes.
72' And there it is. Iwobi, on the field for just a few minutes, gives Nigeria the lead. Moses plays it to Shehu and he pulls it back to Iwobi, who drives home.
71' It doesn't work.
71' Zambia corner. Nigeria break and they conspire to make a mess of it. Moses to Ighalo. Instead of shooting, he pulls it back, loses possession and then has a dive in the hope of winning a penalty.
70' Zambia win a corner. They're pushing Nigeria back further now. they know theie World Cup bid hangs in the balance now. They need to go for it.
67' Nigeria free is whipped in and cleared.
65' Iwobi replaces Troost-Ekong.
63' Referee trying to calm things down here. Shehu booked for a tackle on Mwepu. Mweene rushed out of his goal to confront the aggressor and the referee smooths things with a card and a word with the keeper.
61' Nigeria have by no means been excellent but they are doing enough to keep Zambia at bay.
59' Moses pulled up for a high foot.
57' Header saves by Mweene and put out for a corner. Mwepu goes to head clear and gets a kick in the head for himself. Free going out the way!
56' Zambia trying to move up a gear and really take it to Nigeria. Mtgona fouls Obi Mikel and gets booked. That's not going to help.
54' Agu fouls Nyonga and gets a stern telling off by the referee. Obstruction but nothing more really.
50' Zambia make a change. Lungu is replaced by Mbewe.
46' We are back underway in Nigeria. Zambia need a goal!
45'+2' That's it from the first half at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium. Nigeria won't be happy with their display but they have looked more dangerous than Zambia.
45'+2' Agu fouled by Mulenga.
45'+1' Approaching half-time now in a tense, exciting but goalless World Cup qualifier.
44' Ighalo goes close. Moses chips it towards him after a powerful run. The former Watford striker drives wide.
40' Mulenga and Ndidi collide as the former gets to it first. Sore ankle for the Zambian winger it looks like.
37' Zambia pushing again for that opener. Mwepu the latest. Ezenwa saves this time from his left-footed strike. He turns it onto the post and out for a corner. Close call.
36' Good night Irene, as the song goes. Nyonga strikes a volley from outside the box but he mishits it and it ends up somewhere near Zambia (the game is on in Nigeria).
35' Mulenga down and grabbing his header after colliding in the air with a Nigerian defender. he is back up and gets back up and comes back on the field.
33' Surely a free? Jon Obi Mikel straight at the Zambia defense. He falls over and it looks like a free. But the replays suggest he was, maybe fouled, kept his compsure and then collapsed when he knew he had run down a blind alley.
32' Lungu heads onto Nyonga and he shoots over the bar. Good chance as he used his strength to win that one but he put too much on the lob. Straight over the bar.
31' Agu early into the action and strikes an effort that is saved by Mweene.
30' Apologies. Onazi is not moving freely and does have to be replaced. Agu the man who will take his spot.
28' Onazi seems to be okay. He is back on the field and moving freely.
26' Onazi injured himself as he crossed that last ball or when he broke free. He is carted off the field, gets off the stretcher and tests out his leg. He's not happy with it and Nigeria are preparing their first substitute.
24' Offside called on Mulenga. Replays show he was when the ball was headed onto him.
23' Reall poor pass at the back sees Onazi sneak in and steal it. He squares again to Ighalo but it's out of his reach.
20' Nigeria having a decent spell. A corner that comes to nothing followed by a throw. Pushing Zambia back more now.
17' Just as I say that, they break. Moses Simon in acres of space down the right and he crosses for Ighalo but he can't reach it. So close to the opener.
17' Wave after wave here of Zambia attack. Nigeria struggling to get a look in.
15' Zambia straight back up the field and Sakala is streaking down the left. He drives an effort towards goal from a tight angle. Wide but Zambia looking incresingly comfortable and most likely to score.
14' Really long, hopeful ball by Kapambu but he overhits it.
13' Chelsea's Moses on the move but he is tackled and dispossessed. Mulenga with an exquisite piece of skill to set himself free own the right. A type of backheel to himself as he crosses but it's too far out of Nyonga's reach.
11' Long ball to Ighalo but he fails to control it and it's straight back to Mweene, who can restart for Zambia.
10' Elderson pulled down by Mwepu. He took off in the direction of Nigera's goals but the ref blew the whistle late!
9' Sakala fouls Shehu as he tries to get to the ball. Free to the defender.
8' Early days but Zambia look more comfortable.
5' Mweene arrives out of his area to clear.
4' Zambia with a corner.
3' Nigeria win a throw bu Zambia break. Obi Mikel launches himself into a tackle to break it up. Aggressive but he gets the job done.
1' We are underway at Godswill Akpabio Stadium
The two sides have met 18 times before today. Nigeria hold a better record with seven wins to Zambia's five. There have been six draws. A win for Zambia today could help them on their way to their first ever World Cup finals.
Ighalo preferred to Iheanacho once again up front for the Super Eagles.
Nigeria team news: Ezenwa, Echiejile, Ndidi, Ekong, Balogun, Obi Mikel, Shehu, Moses, Simon, Onazi, Ighalo.
Zambia certainly hopeful in their preview on their Facebook page: "Zambia has been known to come to the party when the stakes are high with the motivation to fell the Super Eagles in their backyard a motivation for the Chipolopolo."
Zambia's starting XI: Mweene, Silwimba, Kapumbu, Tembo, Sunza, Mtonga, Mwepu, Lungu, Mulenga, Sakala, N'gonga.
A total of six players have scored Nigeria’s 10 goals so far in the qualifying race for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
Rohr also hints at a tactical crease in his plan: "We will try to do what we did against Cameroon today but we know it will be more difficult against Zambia because they saw our last two games, They know us and so we have to be able to have a good grasp of the game and to change something also, to be more dangerous and have that surprise package.’"
The winner of the Man of the Match in this game will win 1 million Nigerian Naira, alongside 10 bags of Big Bull Rice to be donated to a charity of the player’s choice.
Zambia really need to win. Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr knows it too, "I think the situation today is good for us because we have 10 points and they have seven while we have a goal difference of +7 and they have +2, so we go into the match knowing that if we win, we are through while they have to win to have a chance. We want to win and hope to win. This is the situation no matter what happens, if we get a draw, I think it could be enough to still qualify. But we want to win this game."
Zambia could be without key players at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium. Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and striker Patson Daka are rumoured to be out of action.
Manchester United, Torino, Chapecoense... Zambia form part of the tragic group of teams to have been affected by an air disaster. In 1993, 18 Zambian players and staff were killed in a crash while on the way to Senegal for a World Cup qualifer. Their Africa Cup of Nations victory in 2012 was an incredibly emotional event within that context, as Jonathan Wilson explains in this excellent article.
In fact, it's likely that Mikel will take the Nigerian caps record from Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo, who each have 101. The captain is the sort of player who shouldn't deteriorate drastically as he edges in to his thirties, given his position and style of play.
It feels like Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has been on the scene forever, but he is still only 30. Now playing in the Chinese Super League, he has 100 caps for the Super Eagles well within his sights.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Nigeria vs Zambia. We'll be building up to the match throughout the day, as the Super Eagles look to secure their passage to Russia 2018.
Nigeria vs Zambia live stream online: Preview
A sixth World Cup finals appearance awaits Nigeria as they welcome Zambia to the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo. Nigeria first qualified for the international football showpiece in 1994 and are looking in good shape to do so once again. Zambia lie just three points behind the group leaders having won two, drawn one and lost one but know it will be a tough ask to get anything out of this, the penultimate game.
Nigeria latest news
The 2-1 win in the reverse fixture in Ndola 12 months ago helped get the country behind a team who had failed to feature at back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations. It set the tone for the Super Eagles' excellent campaign in a tough Group B, with Nigeria not dropping points until matchday four in Yaounde. The 1-1 draw in Cameroon, combined with Zambia winning in Algeria last month, have meant the Chipolopolo are now the only team between Nigeria and next year's tournament in Russia.
Head coach Gernot Rohr will take much of the credit for the progress the team has made since he took charge in July 2016. The German is now only 90 minutes away from his biggest accomplishment of a career that has taken him to French club Bordeaux, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia as well as the national teams of Niger, Burkina Faso and Gabon.
He said: "It will be an interesting but difficult game against Zambia, who we beat 2-1 in Ndola [last year], but they have changed [since]. It's an important game and we have it in our hands to win. If we have our players fit, we will be at the World Cup.
"I hope we repeat what we did against Cameroon,” he said, referring to the 4-0 win in Uyo.
Local sports journalist, Arafat Aliu, summed the manager’s contribution up nicely: "Rohr has got the team to deliver. He understands some of the politics in Nigeria and this has helped him in his team selection."
There is a real English Premier League influence contributing to their success. Captain John Obi Mikel, previously of Chelsea and now plying his trade at Chinese club Tianjin TEDA, has been leading the side by example and current star at the Bridge, Victor Moses, has continued his rise for the national team, with seemingly renewed commitment. Several young players, like Leicester City pair Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi and Arsenal's Alex Iwobi, have stepped up to the full international game after gaining first-team experience in the English top flight. Leon Balogun, playing in the Bundesliga for Mainz 05, has been called 'our German machine', by his appreciative manager.
Moses, in his more advanced position for his country, is the Eagles' leading scorer in qualifying with three goals ahead of Mikel and Iheanacho, who both have two. Fans will be hoping for a few more tonight to put the game, and qualification, to bed as early as possible.
Zambia latest news
Although qualification is now looking unlikely Zambia will travel to their group rivals hopeful of causing an upset and putting the Nigerian celebrations on ice. The Chipolopolo have a strong impact from the team spending a lot of money in the CAF Champions League, TP Mazembe, this giving a certain unity to the team.
Team coach Wedson Nyirenda has been keen to keep his team’s tactics under wraps ahead of Saturday’s qualifier.
“When we get onto the pitch we shall size up the Eagles and know how to play them,” he said at a pre-match press conference. He went on to admit that the Nigerian side was more experienced than his, however, they would look to use their own strengths
Nigeria vs Zambia live online: potential team line-ups
Nigeria XI: Ezenwa, Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Echiejile, Onazi, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Simon, Ighalo.
Zambia XI: Mweene, Sunzu, Tembo, Kapumbu, Silwimba, Mtonga, Mwepu, Mulenga, Mbewe, Shonga, Daka.
Nigeria vs Zambia live online: odds and betting
The hosts are priced at 4/9 to beat Zambia and progress east on the road to Russia.
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