2022 World Cup: Balogun and Nigeria avenge shock CAR loss
Leon Balogun atoned for his role in Nigeria’s shock home loss to Central African Republic three days ago by opening the scoring as the Super Eagles beat CAR 2-0 on Sunday.
Victor Osimhen netted the second a minute after the break in Douala, as the Cameroonian city staged the game owing to stadiums deemed unfit to host in CAR.
Balogun was criticised for his role, along with fellow centre-back William Troost Ekong, in allowing CAR to score their 91st-minute winner in Lagos on Thursday.
By contrast, after 29 minutes on Sunday, Balogun turned home inside the box to start setting the record straight, with his team-mates rushing over in celebration.
Just seconds after the break, Osimhen sealed the win – with the Super Eagles’ clean sheet also a boost to Balogun who had said Nigeria’s players were ‘in deep pain’ after Thursday’s first home World Cup qualifying loss in 40 years.
The game was also notable for Ahmed Musa winning his 100th cap as the forward, who replaced Chidera Ejuke after 67 minutes for his special moment, became only the third Nigerian centurion after Joseph Yobo and Vincent Enyeama.
The victory takes Nigeria five points clear in Group C, five ahead of both CAR and Cape Verde, who host a Liberia side on three points later on Sunday.
In Group J, Benin undid the hard work of their 1-0 win in Tanzania on Wednesday by losing 1-0 at home to the same opposition on Sunday.
Saimon Msuva is beginning to make a habit of fast starts and after earning a penalty after just four seconds in last month’s win against Madagascar, he scored the matchwinner in Cotonou after six minutes.
Benin could have gone six points clear of Tanzania but are now level instead with seven points apiece, a tally that can be overhauled by DR Congo if they win in Madagascar later on Sunday .
Elsewhere, Mali and Uganda continued their fierce battle for Group E supremacy as both sides won, taking the Malians to nine points with the Cranes two behind.
Mali won 1-0 away in Kenya, thanks to Ibrahima Kone’s 55th-minute goal, while Uganda beat Rwanda by the same score after Fahad Bayo made the breakthrough midway through the first half in Entebbe.
The group concludes next month with Mali, who travel to Rwanda first, hosting Uganda, who play Kenya before, on the final day.
In Sunday’s other late games, Zambia entertain Equatorial Guinea in Group B whose leaders Tunisia travel to Mauritania.