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    Categories: Kunle Solaja

BATTLE OF EPIC PROPORTION

The first time Algeria qualified for the World Cup, it climbed on the back of Nigeria. That was on the road to Spain ’82. The first time Nigeria qualified for the World Cup, Algeria was the last hurdle scaled. Then, Nigeria made it to USA ’94.

The only time Africa had two teams in the second round of the World Cup was Brazil 2014. The two teams were Nigeria and Algeria both of which suffered the same fate on the same day losing to European teams they had beaten before.

Nigeria lost to France, which it had beaten 1-0 in their only previous encounter at St. Etienne in 2009. Algeria lost to Germany, a team it beat at the 1982 World Cup.

Both Nigeria and Algeria are paired this weekend in a World Cup qualifier. There are many things that even a slim win will achieve for the Super Eagles this weekend in the World Cup qualifying match with Algeria. But the primary objective is to win and maintain the leadership of Group B regardless of the outcome of the other fixture pairing Cameroon and Zambia.
If the momentum is maintained, Nigerians will not have to resort to calculators in doing the permutation of our qualifying chances as the series wind down. Moreover, a win on Saturday over one of the leading football countries in Africa will make the Super Eagles to leap significantly when the next FIFA ranking is released on November 24

But after the main aim of focusing with the eagles’ eyes on Russia 2018, a win extends to 32, Nigeria’s unbeaten run in the World Cup qualifying series. So far, this is the longest by an African side.

It is therefore, a record worth maintaining. Above all, it is a worthy symbolic marking of not just a major milestone of 100th World Cup qualifying match, but also a 50th home match and extending the number of  Nigeria’s home win in the series to 40th.

The Super Eagles therefore have everything to fight for as Coach Gernot Rohr will also be maintaining a 100% performance with the team.

Fixtures pairing Nigeria and Algeria have always been keenly contested, although some engagements produced extreme results. Let’s flashback to the 5-1 defeat of Nigeria in the opening match of 1990 Africa Cup of Nations in Algiers. In similar fashion was the 4-1 aggregate defeat of Nigeria in the 1982 World Cup qualifiers.

But Nigeria too has inflicted humiliating defeat on Algeria, even away from Nigerian soil. The 5-2 defeat in Oran (Algeria) in a 2006 World Cup qualifier is testimony.

My mind focuses on slim win as a probable result this weekend, although a land slide one is not impossible as it happened 23 years ago, when the Algerians lost 1-4 despite taking the lead as early as the fifth minute of the game when both sides met in one of the last qualifying matches for USA ’94.
Barely 10 minutes later, Nigeria levelled up and took a 3-1 lead before half time. Whatever the case, a win is the most desirable result for Nigeria.

SUPERIORITY CONTEST

Beyond their clashes in World Cup qualifiers, the two teams have clashed 17 times in all competitions. Honours are evenly shared at seven wins each and four drawn games. Nigeria’s biggest win over Algeria was the 5-2 recorded in a 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Oran.
But if the contests of the two teams are narrowed to World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria has the edge with three victories and a drawn game in six outings.  The Super Eagles achieved an enviable but eventually useless double, beating the Algerians home and away on 6-2 aggregate but lost the ticket to Germany 2006 to Angola.

         NIGERIA VS ALGERIA HEAD-TO-HEAD  

P       W       D       L        F       A

Nigeria        18      7        4        7        24      21

Algeria        18      7        4        7        21      24

 

  • 10 Jan.1973 (2AAG) Nigeria 2-2 Algeria
  • 28 Mar.1978 (3AAG) Algeria 1-0 Nigeria
  • 22 Mar. 1980 (Afcon) Nigeria 3-0 Algeria
  • 10 Oct. 1981 (WCq) Nigeria 0-2 Algeria
  • 30 Oct. 1981 (WCq) Algeria 2-1 Nigeria
  • 10 Mar. 1982 (Afcon) Algeria 2-1 Nigeria
  • 11 Mar. 1984 (Afcon) Algeria 0-0 Nigeria
  • 15 Jan. 1988 (Oq) Algeria 1-0 Nigeria
  • 30 Jan. 1988 (Oq) Nigeria 2-0 Algeria
  • 23 Mar.1988 (Afcon) Algeria 1-1 Nigeria *(8 -9 penalty shoot-out)
  • 2 Mar. 1990 (Afcon) Algeria 5-1 Nigeria
  • 16 Mar. 1990 (ACN) Algeria 1-0 Nigeria
  • 13 July 1993 (WCq) Nigeria 4-1 Algeria
  • 8 Oct. 1993 (WCq) Algeria 1-1 Nigeria
  • 21 Jan. 2002 (Afcon) Algeria 0-1 Nigeria
  • 3 Jul. 2004 (WCq) Nigeria 1-0 Algeria
  • 8 Sep. 2005 (WCq) Algeria 2-5 Nigeria
  • 30 Jan.2010 (ACN) Algeria 0-1 Nigeria 

NIGERIA VS ALGERIA IN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING SERIES  

P       W       D       L        F       A

Nigeria        6        3        1        2        12      8

Algeria        6        2        1        3        8        12

  • 10 Oct. 1981 (WCq) Nigeria 0-2 Algeria
  • 30 Oct. 1981 (WCq) Algeria 2-1 Nigeria * Algeria qualify for Spain ‘82
  • 13 July 1993 (WCq) Nigeria 4-1 Algeria
  • 8 Oct. 1993 (WCq) Algeria 1-1 Nigeria *Nigeria qualify for USA ‘94
  • 3 Jul. 2004 (WCq) Nigeria 1-0 Algeria
  • 8 Sep. 2005 (WCq) Algeria 2-5 Nigeria  

BOTH BATTLED JINX AT BRAZIL 2014

Both had been to the World Cup at the expense of one another. Nigeria was the last hurdle Algeria scaled 35 years ago to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. Conversely, Algeria was the last hurdle Nigeria scaled to secure its first World Cup qualification 23 years ago.

Both countries went to Brazil 2014 seeking to break jinx which they did and remained the last two African sides standing at the competition. Ahead of Brazil 2014, the Nigerian Super Eagles have gone nine matches without a win since the 1-0 defeat of Bulgaria at France ’98. It was in the game against Bosnia Herzegovina that the jinx was broken.

Similarly, Algeria went to Brazil 2014 hoping to end a 28-year goal drought. Before then, the last time Algeria scored a goal at the World Cup was Djamel Zidane’s strike against Northern Ireland at Mexico ’86. But at Brazil 2014, when Algeria took the lead in the 25th minute though a penalty kick in an eventual 2-1 loss to Belgium in one of the group games in Belo Horizonte, it was the country’s first World Cup goal in 28 years.

The Algerians had been scoreless for 506 minutes and were just 12 minutes shy of surpassing Bolivia’s negative record of 517 scoreless World Cup minutes.

COACHING WOES

Besides both countries bearing seven lettered names with the last five spelt similarly, Nigeria and Algeria have home colours in common. Both wear green shirts at home. The similarity did not end there.

Nigeria and Algeria have had to change coaches this year. Rohr is the third coach after Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia and Salisu Yusuf to seat on Super Eagles’ bench this year. Georges Leekens who recently replaced Milovan Rajevac is the third Algeria coach this year. The latter had earlier replaced Frenchman, Christian Gourcuff.

‘IDES’ OF NOVEMBER

The upcoming Nigeria versus Algeria fixture brings mixed feelings. It sometimes evokes the bad memory of the last time Nigeria lost a World Cup qualifying match at home. That was 35 years ago. The then Green Eagles lost 2-0 at home.

Another issue of concern is the date. It was on that November 12 date 39 years ago that Nigeria’s dream of qualifying for Argentina ’78 evaporated through self-inflicted goal which gave Tunisia the edge. May these two scenarios never happen again.

…AND WORLD CUP CREATOR DIES

Two weeks ago today, relatively unknown Italian, Silvio Gazzaniga died. That was barely six days after the death of Carlos Alberto Torres, the legendary Brazilian who was the last person to lift from the podium, the original prize for the World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy.

Silvio Gazzaniga, 95, was the sculpture that created the World Cup trophy, which replaced the Jules Rimet trophy. His design was adjudged the best among 53 entries from seven countries.

“The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world,” said the artist of his work, an 18-carat solid gold trophy weighing approximately six kilograms.

“From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory.”

Symbolically, Germany FR was the first country to lift the trophy. Germany was also the last to lift it in Gazzaniga’s life time. Unlike the Jules Rimet trophy, the FIFA World Cup cannot be won for keeps. It remains permanently in FIFA’s possession.

Names of winners are engraved on the plaque side of the base. There is space for 17 inscriptions. Thus, the last space will be taken in the year 2038.

atuma :