Nigeria hold on to end Cameroon’s World Cup hopes

Nigeria hold on to end Cameroon’s World Cup hopes

Nigeria missed the opportunity to all but confirm a spot at next year’s World Cup as they stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Cameroon, but still confirmed the African champions’ elimination despite Vincent Aboubakar’s late penalty cancelling out Moses Simon’s opener.

The Super Eagles thrashed the Indomitable Lions 4-0 in Uyo on Friday to consolidate top spot in Group B — dubbed the Group of Death before qualification began — and could have moved within touching distance of next year’s global showpiece in Russia with a win against Hugo Broos’s beleaguered side in Yaounde.

Instead, the draw takes Nigeria up to 10 points, six ahead of Zambia in second, with Cameroon on three points and Algeria in bottom spot with just one.

The Chipolopolo could put pressure on the Super Eagles with a win away in Constantine against the Fennecs on Tuesday, with the two sides set to meet in a potentially decisive showdown in Uyo in early October.

Nigeria took the lead in controversial fashion in the 30th minute when Simon beat the stranded Fabrice Ondoa from the edge of the six-yard box, despite Odion Ighalo appearing to have been in an offside position in the build-up.

Gernot Rohr’s team laboured to find an equaliser as the contest wore on, and a double substitution by Broos just after the hour mark changed the complexion of the match, with Aboubakar and Christian Bassogog introduced and given licence to run at the Eagles backline.

Moments later, Rohr’s decision to retire Nigeria’s talisman John Obi Mikel for Mikel Agu led to the visitors losing their control in midfield as Cameroon began to impose themselves in front of an increasingly desperate public.

Under increasing pressure, Nigeria’s inexperienced goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa gave away a penalty in the 73rd minute when he recklessly charged out to clear a long ball forward, taking out Arnaud Djoum in the process. Aboubakar duly stepped up from the spot to set up a tense finale.

However, he was unable to salvage the home side’s faint World Cup hopes five minutes from time, when his thunderous effort was saved by Ezenwa — with the keeper only partially making up for his earlier misdemeanour.

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