The Super Eagles are in a ‘win or stay home’ situation on Saturday when they face Congo in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
But even then not just any kind of win might be enough to keep them firmly on course to defending the title they won in South Africa.
While a victory with a one-goal margin would keep the champions alive going into the final matchday of the qualifiers, it would mean their fate not being in their own hands. It would leave Stephen Keshi and his men hoping that Sudan prevent Congo from winning next week.
Congo are currently in second place in the group with seven points to Nigeria’s four, so victory for the Eagles would bring the two teams level on points with one round of games to go.
Since the first tie-breaker is the head-to-head results between two teams in a stalemate, Nigeria would need to defeat Congo with at least a two-goal margin, or a one-goal margin better than the 3-2 defeat in Calabar.
In the above scenarios, the Eagles would have a superior head-to-head record over the Red Devils and a home win over South Africa next week would seal qualification, regardless of what Congo play with Sudan.
If the Eagles beat Congo 3-2, like the Devils beat Nigeria in Calabar, and the two sides have similar results in their final games next week, cumulative goal difference would determine who goes through.
Obviously, any result other than a win for Nigeria would end their AFCON dreams even before the final round of matches.
A draw would maintain Congo’s three-point lead and they would have a better head-to-head with just one match to go. Even if the Eagles then beat South Africa 10-0 and Congo lose 10-0 to Sudan, it would not matter. Although they would then be level on points and Nigeria would have a far superior cumulative goal difference in that scenario, Congo would go through because of their better head-to-head.