International football is back again this weekend, and that can only mean one thing for African nations: qualification for Russia 2018.
Game week one saw some outstanding performances including DR Congo’s 4-0 thrashing of Libya as well as Nigeria’s 2-1 away win in Zambia. In all, 22 goals were scored as teams jostle to top the five groups that will give them a ticket for Russia. The battle hots up even more in game week two. Here are the five games you can not afford to miss.
The is by far the stand out game of the qualification round. Nigeria top group B after their impressive away performance against Zambia in round one. The Fennec Foxes meanwhile drew at home to Cameroon and have since appointed a new coach in Georges Leekens. The Belgian tactician must get a positive result from the match in Uyo, Nigeria, or deny the world the opportunity to see Riyad Mahrez and co. at the World Cup.
Senegalese football is currently experiencing its best hour since El Hadji Diouf and his teammates stunned France in the opening game of the 2002 World Cup. There is pace and power in the squad with players such as Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in the squad to face the Bafana Bafana.
One factor going for the Bafana Bafana is that the game will be on home soil, however based on the quality of the two teams, the Teranga Lions should secure three points comfortably.
DR Congo thrashed Libya 4-0 in their opening group game to top group A. This round two game will be interesting because of the potential for a high scoring game. The Congolese team boasts talented players such as Yannick Bolasie of Everton and Dieumerci Mbokani of Hull City; who scored a brace in the victory over the Libyans. In a group where many will expect the qualification ticket to be a battle between DR Congo and Tunisia, the winner could come down to who scores the most against the other two teams.
The question on everyone’s lips will be ‘can Pierre Aubameyang repeat his four-goal heroics for his country?’. The Gabonese talisman scored four goals for Borussia Dortmund a game after being suspended for flouting club rules. However, his country drew a blank in their first group game at home to Morocco, but face a Mali side that lost to the Ivory Coast 3-1.
This is the perfect opportunity for the highly sought after striker to fire his country to three important points. Gabon are vying for a qualification spot in a group that also has the Elephants of Ivory Coast. If they are to stand any chance of topping the group, Aubameyang will need to have his shooting boots on.
The other stand-out game in group B will see Cameroon host the Chipolopolo of Zambia. The Indomitable Lions earned a respectable draw against Algeria in game week one and will want to consolidate their position with victory over the Zambians.
The Lions may no longer have players that are household names, but with Vincent Aboubakar of Beşiktaş and captain Benjamin Moukandjo, they have enough to press an advantage against a Chipolopolo side struggling to discover the form that won them the 2013 AFCON championship.