Making a sixth appearance at the FIFA Senior World Cup billed for Russia in 2018 is the immediate task before the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
To achieve this aim, Nigeria must finish as winner in Group B after playing home and away games against the trio of Zambia, Algeria and Cameroon.
The journey to Russia will kick start for the Super Eagles on Sunday afternoon in Ndola as Nigeria take on Zambia’s Chipolopolo at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
Aside the capacity crowd being mobilized by the Zambians, the country’s number one citizen, President Edgar Lungu, is expected to be special guest of honour at Sunday’s match.
While the Zambians have not beaten the Super Eagles in a competitive match in the past 31 years, Nigeria has failed to record any victory over Chipolopolo on their own soil.
Will any of the two teams break that jinx today?
Sunday’s encounter, the first FIFA World Cup qualifying match at senior level between both countries, will kick off at 2.30 p.m. Zambia time (1.30 p.m. Nigeria time).
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Nigeria starting XI
1 Ikeme Carl Onora, 3 Elderson Echiejile, 4 Kenneth Josiah Omeruo, 5 William Paul Ekong, 8 Brown Ideye, 10 John Obi Mikel, 11 Moses Daddy Simon, 15 Kelechi Promise Iheanacho, 17 Ogenyi Eddy Onazi, 18 Alexander Chuka Iwobi, 21 Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi
2 Mohammed Musa, 6 Uche Henry Agbo, 7 Ahmed Musa, 9 Godwin Obaje, 12 Abdullah Shehu, 13 Chisom Charles Egbuchunam, 15 Kingsley Madu, 16 Ikechukwu Vincent Ezenwa, 19 Anderson Esiti, 20 Jamiu Alimi Nosakhare, Emmanuel Igiebor, 23 Emmanuel Shinkut Daniel
13.28: Finally the two teams have filed with Nigeria donning all white jerseys and Zambia on Green.
The Zambian president as earlier reported is among the thousands present in the stadium to cheer the Chipolopolo.
13.30: Thunderous noise inside the stadium gives way as the Nigeria national anthem is being played… the Zambia anthem follows after
13.34: Getting ‘spiritual’ both teams in prayer sessions before kickoff.
13.35: KickOff!!! Nigeria takes the opening pass.
13.37: First shot at goal by Zambia through Fwayo Tembo but Ikeme pushes over for a corner.
13.40: Free kick for Nigeria … Moses Simeon wings the ball and Zambia pushes away for a corner to the Eagles.
13.42: Another chance… Simon Moses takes a corner but no connection from his teammates.
13.46: Winston Kalengo tries a low shot for Zambia but Ikeme makes a sharp safe.
13.49: Missed chance by Brown Ideye … he was flagged offside
13.53: Zambia captain …Chisamba Lungu drives through the Eagles defence but the Nigeria defense force a corner kick
13.55: Zambia putting more pressure on the Nigeria defense…. Iwobi and Iheanacho yet to come to the party as the Nigeria forwards are not getting the needed service so far
13.58: Chance!! Fwayo Tembo takes off Nigerian defender Wilfred Ndidi and fires a shot but Ikeme makes a clean save
14.00: Chance!!! Moses Simon fails to pass the ball… he takes a shot from an awkward position instead of giving Ideye who was better placed
14.03: Awful cross from Elderson Echiejile as Nigeria lose possession to the Zambians
14.05: Communication lapses from the Eagles players saw them abruptly ending a nice build-up
14.05: 30 mins gone and it is still Zambia 0-0 Nigeria…. Chipolopolo have enjoyed the better chances though
14.06: Goal!!! Alex Iwobi shoots Nigeria into the lead
14.13: Onazi tries a shot from outside the box but he was well closed down by the Zambians
14.13: Save!!! Ikeme saves from close range and Zambia’s Kalaba gets booked for simulation
14.17: Another Goal, Iheanacho scores rounds off the keeper before slotting in the ball
Mikel to Ideye to Iheanacho… the Manchester City youngster kept his cool to score!!!
14.21: Half Time Zambia 0-2 Nigeria Iwobi and Iheanacho the goal scorers for the Super Eagles
14.36: All getting set for the second half… This is the first time ever that Zambia will be trailing a team 2-0 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium
14.38: Second half underway!!! Zambia launch attack
14.41: Zambia makes first change No 15 Kondwani Mtong comes in for No 4 Adrian Chama
14.46: Foul on Iheanacho.. referee gives free kick to Nigeria
14.48: Chance!!! Zambia pretty close but Mbesuma’s effort saved by Ikeme
14.51: Mikel fires a shot from outside the box but the Zambia keeper makes a fantastic save
14.53: End-to-end action a slip by Ndidi almost cost Nigeria but Ikeme stops Kalaba again !!!
The most memorable encounter between these two sides is arguably the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, which Nigeria won 2-1 to lift her second ever African championship
15.03: Pressure piling on Nigeria as Zambia are desperate to cut the Super Eagles lead… Zambia Coach preparing for another change
15.04: Goal !!!! Zambia cut the lead poor defending by Omeruo sees Mbesuma fire in for Chipolopolo
15.05: First change for Nigeria Anderson Esiti in for Brown Ideye
15.11: Good defending from Ekong denies Zambia a chance to get the equalizer
15.15: second Nigeria change ….Fleet-footed Ahmed Musa in for Moses Simon
15.15: Free kick for Zambia but well defended by Nigeria
15.24: Final change for Nigeria Shehu Abudulahi in for Onazi