By Nurudeen Obalola:
Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been drawn in the same African Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying group with Zambia, Algeria and bitter rivals Cameroon.
Only one of the teams will qualify for the World Cup after facing each other twice home and away.
The draw, held in Cairo on Friday, had 20 teams from four pots placed in five groups of four teams each.
The five group winners will qualify for the World Cup.
Nigeria were in Pot 2 and drew Algeria from the top pot (A), Cameroon from Pot 3 and Zambia from Pot 4.
The Super Eagles are reunited with Algeria in World Cup qualifiers. Back in 1993, Nigeria topped the USA ’94 qualifying group that included Algeria, as the Eagles reached their first ever senior World Cup.
Nigeria back then defeated Algeria 4-1 in Lagos and got the draw they needed in the final group game in Algeria to qualify.
The Super Eagles played a draw with then defending champions Zambia in the group phases of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, before Nigeria went on to win the title.
The two countries also met at the final of the 1994 AFCON, with Nigeria winning a tight game 2-1 in Tunis.
Cameroon and Nigeria have been traditional rivals for ages but have usually avoided each other at World Cup qualifiers, except for the run-up to Italia ’90 when the Lions narrowly prevailed.
The two however clash regularly at AFCON, with the Lions often emerging winners.
Cameroon defeated Nigeria thrice in finals to with AFCON titles: in 1984 in Abidjan, 1988 in Rabat and 2000 in Lagos. But the Eagles defeated the Lions in the quarter-finals of the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia.
In the other African Russia 2018 qualifying groups, Tunisia, Libya, DR Congo and Guinea face off in Group A; while Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Mali and Gabon are in Group C.
Senegal head Group D, with South Africa, Burkina Faso and Vape Verde as the other teams.
Ghana are the top team in Group E, competing with Egypt, Congo and Uganda.
The qualifiers start in October.
ALL THE GROUPS
A: Tunisia, Libya, DR Congo, Guinea
B: Zambia, Cameroon, NIGERIA, Algeria
C: Gabon, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco
D: Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde
E: Ghana, Egypt, Congo, Uganda