Nigeria’s Super Eagles returned to winning ways with a well-deserved 2-0 win over Central African Republic in their Group C encounter in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Douala, Cameroon.
After suffering a shock loss to the minnows at home in Lagos, the Super Eagles needed to pick up maximum points away from home to regain control of affairs in their qualifying group.
Coach Gernot Rohr rung the changes after the debacle in Lagos as he reverted to a three-man defence, introducing Chidozie Awaziem for Ola Aina and captain Ahmed Musa for Chidera Ejuke. Musa was making his record-equalling 101st appearance as he helped the Super Eagles defeat CAR in Douala.
In a manner reminiscent of the first leg in Lagos, the Super Eagles struggled to create quality openings against the Wild Beasts, with no shots on target recorded in the opening minutes of the half.
Eventually, the CAR defence caved and the Super Eagles found themselves ahead just before the half-hour mark. A long throw was half-cleared by the CAR defenders before a cross was launched from deep by Awaziem for Leon Balogun to volley home a side-footed finish in the 29th minute. It was the 33-year-old’s first goal for the Super Eagles.
With halftime imminent, the Super Eagles doubled their advantage through hotshot striker Victor Osimhen in the first minute of added time. The CAR goalkeeper flapped at a Super Eagles free-kick before the ball was recycled and William Troost-Ekong squared the ball across the box for Osimhen to finish from close range. It was the 22-year-old’s 8th goal in only 16 national team appearances.
CAR improved in the second half but were unable to threaten the Super Eagles. They were lucky to remain only two goals behind as a last-ditch block denied Osimhen after he had rounded the keeper, before Ahmed Musa and Frank Onyeka elected to pass when they were through on goal as the half wore down.
CSKA Moscow winger Chidera Ejuke replaced Musa with over 20 minutes left to play, and the 23-year-old ran rings around the CAR defence, coming close to opening his Super Eagles account on numerous occasions without success before the end of the match. The all-round performance of the players saw the Super Eagles defeat CAR to end their international break on the high.
The Super Eagles have remained unbeaten away from home in competitive fixtures since 2019, and remain on top of their group with nine points from four matches. They will end their group stage campaign in November against Cape Verde and Liberia.