Qatar 2022 Race: Three talking points ahead of Liberia vs Nigeria clash

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face the Lone Star of Liberia in matchday five of the Qatar 2022 African qualifying series, scheduled to take place at the Grand Stade de Tangier in Morocco on Saturday, 13th November in a must-win contest.

Super Eagles of Nigeria

Super Eagles kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a decent 2-0 win, in their first meeting with the Lone Stars at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on 3rd September, courtesy of a brace from Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho.

There are major talking points as Nigeria are set to battle Liberia for the three points in the second leg. Here are a few key ones, ahead of what will be a make or mar game for the Super Eagles.

The return of Odion Ighalo

Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, earlier this month included the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations top scorer, Odion Ighalo, who announced his international retirement after a successful AFCON outing in Egypt, in his latest squad. The inclusion of the 32-year-old forward has generated a lot of discussion from pundits.

Some people are of the opinion that Rohr’s decision to bring back Ighalo ahead of Germany-based Taiwo Awoniyi, who is one of Nigeria’s best strikers in Europe this season, clearly shows that the Franco-German has no developmental plan for Nigeria Football.

The returns of Ndidi, Iwobi and Chukwueze

The returns of Leicester City midfield enforcer, Wilfred Ndidi, Everton player, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze of Villa Real are a talking point ahead of the two 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures.

The inclusion of the trio, who were not part of the team before now as a result of injury, in the Super Eagles squad has strengthened the team, and Nigerians believed this will reflect positively in the matches against Liberia and Cape Verde.

The fear of Northern Match Officials

Tunisian referees, Youssef Essrayri, 42, Aymen Ismail, Youssef Jami and Mehrez Melki have been appointed as the match officials, for the match that will begin at 5pm Moroccan time (6pm Nigeria time).

In 2017, Youssef Essrayri handled Nigeria’s shock home loss to South Africa in an Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifier. He also handled the controversial Enyimba versus Raja Casablanca of Morocco match in the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup match in Aba.

The Super Eagles have not been lucky with results whenever Essrayri handled their match. This has also generated some discussion ahead of the clash against Liberia.

The Nigerian team lead Group C, having gathered nine points from four matches ahead of the Blue Sharks, who are in the second spot with seven points. A win against Liberia will send the three-time Africa Cup of Nations winners to the knockout phase of the World Cup qualifiers.

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Olawale Quadry is a Mass Communication graduate, creative writer and pundit with eight years of experience and deep knowledge of Nigerian sports. He has previously written for SL10, South Africa, TribaI Football and Opera News. Follow him on Twitter @QualityQuadry

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Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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