By Nurudeen Obalola in Uyo:
The Super Eagles can take a giant step on the road to the Russia 2018 World Cup this evening here in Uyo when they face Algeria from 5pm.
After the first set of results in African qualifying Group B, it became apparent that winning their three home games will all but guarantee passage into Russia for Nigeria.
Gernot Rohr and his men therefore know that this is the first part of a three-part series that would culminate in qualification for the World Cup if they follow it through.
The Eagles go into the game in good form, having won their last four matches, including two friendlies in Belgium against Mali and Luxembour and two qualifiers against Tanzania and Zambia.
The most important of these victories was the 2-1 win over Zambia in Ndola in October which, combined with Algeria and Cameroon's draw, put the Eagles in a strong position in their qualifying group.
It is time to consolidate on that position and the Eagles have the ability, the momentum and the history to get the all-important win.
In Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi, Nigeria have two of the hottest youngsters in world football at the month.
The two 20-year-olds have not only delivered consistently for their clubs – Manchester City and Arsenal respectively – they have done the job for their country.
Iheanacho has scored in each of Nigeria's last four matches, including the classy winner against Zambia, while Iwobi opened scoring in the Ndola victory.
The two youngsters are surrounded by a lot of experiended players who have been through the wars and know a thing or two about winning important games.
Captain Mikel Obi is in his tenth year with the Eagles and although he might be having difficulties at Chelsea where he has not played a single minute this season, he has produced the goods with the national team in recent matches.
Mikel's composure in midfield should be complemented by Ogenyi Onazi's strength, while in-form Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa should provide the width.
The Eagles are an attractive unit in attack and decent in midfield, but the big worry is the defence.
The central defence of Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong did not inspire much confidence against Zambia, and the full-backs Elderson Echiejile and Wilfred Ndidi were toast each time Zambia wingers ran at them.
There should be changes in defence though as Mainz's Leon Balogun returns and Shehu Abdullahi could replace emergency right-back Ndidi.
The biggest blow to the rearguard is however in the giant-sized hole left with the absence through injury of goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, who has been superb since his first match in 2015.
Chipa United keeper Daniel Akpeyi posted a solid display against Egypt in Alexandria earlier this year in place of the ill Ikeme. Hopefully, he repeats that performance but without conceding.
Akpeyi and his defenders must be on top of their game as the wounded Fennecs have the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, who have formed a strong partnership at Leicester City, to spread panic and cause damage.
The Eagles will hope for a repeat of the qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup. Nigeria were in the same group as Algeria and the Eagles got four points from the North Africans, winning 4-1 in Lagos and sealing qualification with a nail-biting 1-1 draw in Algeria.
The Super Eagles have sounded very confident in the run-up to the key clash. It is time to put words into action.
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