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WCQ: Can Central African Republic lay a glove on Nigeria?

The Central African Republic will have the tough task of taking on Nigeria this Thursday evening in the first of two African 2022 World Cup Qualifying Group C matches between the teams.

Kick-off at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos is slated for 6pm CAT.

Nigeria sit proudly atop the standings after back-to-back wins over Liberia (2-0 at home) and Cape Verde (2-1) away in September, with Kelechi Iheanaco netting a brace in the former game, while the latter featured an own goal from Kenny Rocha Santos and a strike from Victor Osimhen.

The Super Eagles will feel that back-to-back wins in October will all but ensure passage to the final playoff round in March next year, with manager Gernot Rohr seeing both the upside of having attackers in great form, but also missing a couple of key players elsewhere on the pitch.

“I’m happy with Victor Osimhen’s form and my strikers ahead of our qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic,” Rohr explained. “Samuel Kalu has also been good, he took his goal well against Montpelier as well as Terem Moffi.

“Wilfred Ndidi is out for a month with a hamstring injury. He will be missed for the games against Central African Republic, but we expect him to make a good return next month for the games against Liberia and Cape Verde.”

CAR, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw by Cape Verde before a 1-0 loss against Liberia last month, leaving them bottom of the group heading into this block of fixtures.

The Wild Beasts will look to promising youngster Arnaud Tattevin and midfielder Tresor Toropite – with the latter on target against Cape Verde – but manager Raoul Savoy will mainly be prioritising defence, given Nigeria’s strength in the striking department.

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“I like his [Osimhen’s] style of play, powerful and a really good striker. For us, of course, it will be an honour to play against this class of players but for now, I think Osimhen is for me the best at the moment,” admitted Savoy.

In head-to-head stats, this will be the first meeting of Nigeria and the CAR.

The other Group C match on Thursday sees Liberia host Cape Verde in neutral Accra in Ghana, with kick-off at 3pm CAT.

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