Eagles soar higher

Nige­ria and Uganda top re­spec­tive pools in World Cup qual­i­fiers

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International Football -

POLOKWANE/ Vic­tor Moses scored twice and John Obi Mikel added the other as Nige­ria went four points clear in World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion with a 3-1 home win over Al­ge­ria in Uyo on Satur­day.

Burk­ina Faso and Uganda are also top of their re­spec­tive groups af­ter suc­cess on Satur­day but Senegal, among the favourites to qual­ify for Rus­sia 2018, suf­fered a set­back un­der con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances in South Africa.

Nige­ria won a sec­ond match in Group B, af­ter an away vic­tory in Zam­bia last month, with Moses open­ing the scor­ing af­ter 25 min­utes when a for­tu­itous one-two was played off Al­ge­ria de­fender Hicham Belka­roui and al­lowed him to tuck away the ball.

Obi Mikel added a sec­ond in un­usual cir­cum­stances. Both the Nige­ria cap­tain and the Al­ge­rian back­line pre­sumed Obi Mikel was off­side af­ter a ball was scooped over a static de­fen­sive line. For a split sec­ond all stood still in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a flag from the lines­men or whis­tle from the ref­eree but nei­ther came, leav­ing Obi Mikel to re­act quick­est and calmly slot home in the 42nd minute.

A long range rocket from Na­bil Ben­taleb re­duced the deficit in the 67th minute but Moses grabbed his sec­ond in stop­page time at the end af­ter a counter at­tack move found him un­marked at the back post for an easy con­ver­sion.

De­feat leaves Al­ge­ria, who went to the sec­ond round of last World Cup in Brazil, in deep dan­ger of miss­ing out on Rus­sia as they were left bot­tom on one point, along with Zam­bia, who grabbed an un­ex­pected 1-1 draw away at Cameroon in Limbe.

Striker Collins Mbe­suma slid home a square pass for a 34th minute opener but Cameroon equalised on the stroke of half-time when Vin­cent Aboubakar con­verted a penalty. Cameroon have two points. Hosts South Africa were handed a soft penalty two min­utes be­fore half­time in their Group D clash with Senegal in Polokwane which cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo con­verted.

Tele­vi­sion re­plays showed it was a mis­take by the ref­eree but while in­censed Sene­galese player were still be­rat­ing the of­fi­cials two min­utes later, they got caught by a quickly taken free kick that saw Thu­lani Serero fin­ish for a 2-0 home lead at the break.

Senegal, with Sa­dio Mane lead­ing their at­tack, laid siege to the home side’s goal af­ter Cheikh Ndoye pulled one back but ran out of time in their bid for an equaliser.

South Africa have four points in the group, be­hind Burk­ina Faso on goal dif­fer­ence af­ter they beat Cape Verde 2-0. Farouk Miya’s 18th minute strike al­lowed Uganda to beat Congo 1-0 in Kam­pala to top Group E. Satur­day’s two matches in Group C both ended goal­less as the Ivory Coast drew in Morocco and Gabon held Mali.

COUR­TESY

Vic­tor Moses in ac­tion for Nige­ria in pre­vi­ous match.

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