BY KUNLE SOLAJA
The Group E of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series reaches a crescendo this Tuesday in Sfax, Tunisia and Victoria in Seychelles.
GROUP E STANDINGS
P W D L F A GD PTS
South Africa 3 2 1 0 8 0 +8 7
Nigeria 3 2 0 1 7 2 +5 6
Libya 3 1 1 1 5 5 0 4
Seychelles 3 0 0 3 1 14 -13 0
In the latter city, South Africa are away to Seychelles, the punching bag of the group, who have accumulated a 13-goal deficit, having barren point and scoring just a goal against 14 conceded.
A win for South Africa is almost assured. Similarly, Nigeria are away to Libya in Sfax, Tunisia. The possible result may not lend itself to easy prediction.
But if Nigeria should win, they will move very close to picking an Africa Cup of Nations’ ticket for the first time since beating Liberia 6-1 in Calabar on October 13, 2012 to qualify for the 2013 edition.
A win in Sfax would mean that the Super Eagles will need just a point from the available six in their remaining two matches – away to South Africa and home to Seychelles.
The same is applicable for South Africa whose away win against Seychelles is highly predictable. If that happens, a draw is what they require in their next month’s home game with Nigeria.
A win this Tuesday takes their point haul to 10 while the maximum Nigeria can get to at the end of matchday 4 is nine points. If bookmakers are proved right, both Nigeria and South Africa are primed to pick the two Group E tickets.
If South Africa complete an expected victory in the Seychelles they will need just a single point from their remaining qualifiers – home to Nigeria in November and away in Libya next March.
If Nigeria get a victory over Libya in neutral Sfax, Tunisia, they will move five points ahead of the North Africans and would also require just a point to qualify as even if the Libyans match their points tally, the Super Eagles would advance on head-to-head. If Libya win, they would move up to second with an away trip to Seychelles and that home fixture against South Africa to come, two games they might feel would be winnable.