World Cup Qualifier: Nigeria rekindles Algeria rivalry

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There have been 17 clashes between the Super Eagles and the Desert Foxes of Algeria (all at competitive level), with Nigeria winning eight times, drawing three and losing six.

For many however, history would count for less when both teams take a go at themselves again this Saturday in a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

From the first clash between both countries played back in 1973, during the football event of the 2nd All-Africa Games hosted by Nigeria, to the most recent being in 2010, it has always been a fierce battle between the two teams.

That is what is expected to play out again at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.

Already, Captain Mikel John Obi has assured that the Super Eagles will take to the pitch on Saturday determined to earn all three points from the match.

The 29-year-old midfielder told thenff.com on Friday morning that all the players appreciate the importance of this particular game and its ramifications for Nigeria’s march to a sixth FIFA World Cup finals.

“We all know what this match means, why we have to give everything. Yes, we started the race well by winning in Zambia, but we have to approach this match even more seriously. The Algerians will come with determination and they will play hard, but we will play harder.

“The World Cup is the biggest stage; every player wants to be there. I am happy we have such a young and energetic team. I played at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 but there are many of these players who have never been to the World Cup. They want to be there.”

The dogged playmaker insisted that the team is looking forward to nothing less than victory against the invading Fennecs.

“Three points; that is what we will be playing for. We are committed and the visit of the vice president (Yemi Osinbajo) to our training in Abuja has motivated us even more.”

Mikel, who is now the Nigeria Captain, was barely three years old when Algeria last beat Nigeria in a competitive game. That was during the final of the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations Cup (AFCON) in Algiers.

Now gunning for a sixth ticket, Nigeria represented Africa at the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, reaching the Round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

Nigeria and Algeria were Africa’s best teams at the last World Cup finals, in Brazil, each eliminated in the Round of 16 on the same day: Nigeria fell to France while Algeria were defeated by Germany.

The rivalry between Nigeria and Algeria at senior level is one of the fiercest in African football.

Nigeria beat Algeria to win her first Africa Cup of Nations in 1980; 10 years later, Algeria beat Nigeria to win her first Cup of Nations.

Algeria beat Nigeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup – Spain 1982; Nigeria beat Algeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup – USA 1994.

The first meeting between both teams, at the All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted in 1973, ended 2-2.

Algeria enjoyed a three –match winning streak against Nigeria between October 1981 and March 1982, but Nigeria has won the last four confrontations between both nations.

The Super Eagles have never lost a World Cup qualifying home match outside of Lagos. And they have lost only one out of six World Cup qualifying matches played in the month of November, winning the remaining five.

The Algerians hit Uyo on Thursday evening with a delegation of 61 persons, aboard a chartered flight, and will have the official training on the pitch of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Friday evening. They were received at the Ibom International Airport by NFF Deputy General Secretary, Emmanuel Ikpeme and protocol officer, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi.

Nigeria-Algeria in history

10 Jan 1973: Nigeria 2 Algeria 2 (All Africa Games, AAG, Lagos)

22 Mar 1980: Nigeria 3 Algeria 0 (Africa Cup of Nations, ACN, Lagos)

10 Oct 1981: Nigeria 0 Algeria 2 (World Cup qualifier, WCq, Lagos)

30 Oct 1981: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 (WCq, Constantine)

10 Mar 1982: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 (ACN, Benghazi)

11 Mar 1984: Algeria 0 Nigeria 0 (ACN, Bouake)

15 Jan 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 (Olympic qualifier, Olq, Annaba)

30 Jan 1988: Nigeria 2 Algeria 0 (Olq, Enugu)

23 Mar 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 (ACN, Rabat: Nigeria win 9-8 penalties)

2 Mar 1990: Algeria 5 Nigeria 1 (ACN, Algiers)

16 Mar 1990: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 (ACN, Algiers)

13 July 1993: Nigeria 4 Algeria 1 (WCq, Lagos)

8 Oct 1993: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 (WCq, Algiers)

21 Jan 2002: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 (ACN, Bamako)

3 July 2004: Nigeria 1 Algeria 0 (WCq, Abuja)

4 Sept 2005: Algeria 2 Nigeria 5 (WCq, Oran)

30 Jan 2010: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 (ACN, Benguela)


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