Nigeria’s Super Eagles have redeemed their reputation after a 2-0 victory over Central African Republic in the return fixture of their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
After a humiliating 1-0 defeat in Lagos on Thursday, Gernot Rohr changed his tactics and opted for a more attacking starting XI with Ahmed Musa making his 100th appearance for the West Africans.
The visitors started Sunday’s encounter on a bright note with more possession and as early as in the ninth minute, Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho combined but the Napoli striker could not find the target with his effort.
The duo kept piling the pressure on CAR while Musa and Moses Simon continued with their runs to split the opposition defence.
After 21 minutes into the game, CAR’s Freeman Niamathe received the first yellow card for a foul on Musa and two minutes later, Jospin Gaopandia became the second player to have his name in the referee’s books.
Nigeria finally got their breakthrough struck in 29th minute after Balogun slotted home a cross from Chidozie Awaziem. The strike was Balogun’s maiden goal in a Super Eagles shirt since he made his debut in March 2014.
Shortly after the opening goal, the Wild Beasts were forced to make a change due to an injury to striker Georgino M’Vondo, so Isaac Ngoma was brought on in the 34th minute.
Rohr’s men continued their dominance and shortly after Ngoma was booked for a challenge on Balogun, the visitors doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time with another defender William Troost-Ekong providing the assist for Osimhen to score his second goal in the World Cup qualifiers.
After the restart, Brentford midfielder Frank Onyeka received Nigeria’s first yellow card in the game after a rough challenge on Ngoma in the 51st minute.
CAR’s brightest chance of the game came in the 58th minute when Karl Namnganda flashed his shot across the face of goal after beating Troost-Ekong.
Musa came off for CSKA Moscow winger Chidera Ejuke in the 65th minute and later on, Nigeria made double substitutions in the 74th minute with Kenneth Omeruo replacing Balogun who limped off. This was after a challenge from Namnganda while Malmo midfielder Innocent Bonke came on for Iheanacho.
Four minutes after his introduction, Ejuke almost found the back of the net but his shot was parried by goalkeeper Prince Samolah. In the last 10 minutes of the game, Osimhen went down for medical treatment but he rose up again to complete the encounter as Nigeria grabbed their third win in Group C.
They remain on top with nine points after four matches, and they face Liberia for their next fixture on November 11 before concluding the group campaign against Cape Verde Islands, three days later.