Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Nigeria first team from Africa to qualify

AP

Players toss Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr into the air after they won their World Cup qualifying match against Zambia in Uyo, Nigeria, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Nigeria on Saturday became the first team from Africa to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, doing it with a game to spare and emerging from the so-called “group of death” after beating Zambia 1-0 at home.

The victory, clinched by substitute Alex Iwobi’s goal with 17 minutes to go, ensured that Nigeria will win Group B and qualify for the World Cup for the sixth time in the past seven tournaments.

Only the five group winners qualify from Africa and at least three of the groups will go down to the wire and the last games next month. It could be four out of five groups if Egypt did not take its chance yesterday.

Tunisia could have joined Nigeria in Russia next year, but despite a 4-1 win in Guinea, will have to wait after Congo beat Libya to keep alive its hopes.

Egypt can reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990 if it beats the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end the penultimate round of qualifiers.

EUROPEAN QUALIFIERS

AP, GENEVA, Swizerland

Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday scored and helped Portugal win an eighth straight game in World Cup qualifying — and could still fail to qualify.

While Portugal was laboring to beat Andorra 2-0, using its superstar as a substitute, Group B leader Switzerland’s 5-2 win over visiting Hungary ran its own win streak to nine, and the Swiss still could fail to advance.

It set up a showdown game in Lisbon tomorrow that Portugal must win while the Swiss need only a draw to top the group and avoid the playoffs next month.

“If you win nine out of nine and you can still have fear of not qualifying — it’s anyway a bit complicated,” Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner said.

France’s third-minute goal in Bulgaria was enough for a 1-0 win to retain the Group A lead by one point from Sweden, which earlier routed Luxembourg 8-0.

The third-place Netherlands need a miracle in its final game at home to Sweden tomorrow, despite winning 3-1 in Belarus.

Belgium already qualified from Group H last month and won 4-3 in Bosnia-Herzegovina to dent the home team’s chance of claiming a playoffs place as one of the eight best runners-up in the nine European groups.

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