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IT’S 16 YEARS SINCE SUPER EAGLES LAST LOST A WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

Nigeria’s Super Eagles maintained one of the world’s longest unbeaten run in the World Cup qualifiers. It is exactly 16 years ago today, that the team last lost a World Cup qualifying match on the pitch.

It was on this date, 20 June 2004 that the team lost to Angola at the Estadio da Cidadela in Luanda after they had held on gamely for 83 minutes before the Angolan talisman, Akwa scored in the 84th minute.

In the final analysis, that goal contributed to Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the Germany 2006 World Cup as the Super Eagles played 1-1 with Angola in the reversed leg in Kano and thus lost out in head-to-head ruling.

Since the Luanda match, the Super Eagles resumed with a 1-0 win over Algeria in Abuja and raked up matches without a loss.

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The record which stretched to 36 games on the last matchday of the qualifying series for the Russia 2018 was technically truncated as their 1-1 draw with Algeria was overturned to a 3-0 defeat by FIFA on account of fielding Shehu Abdulahi who was ineligible for the match.

In the match with Algeria in their last World Cup qualifier nearly three years ago, John Ogu put Nigeria ahead before Yacine Brahimi converted an 89th minute penalty kick.

Thus, a total of 4,891 days, which is 13 years, four months and 21 days elapsed before the Super Eagles of Nigeria technically lost a World Cup qualifying match.

That mark represents a joint-second-longest unbeaten streak in World Cup qualification, level with Germany and behind Spain’s 63-game record.

So, when the Super Eagles begin another qualifier in the Qatar 2022 series, they will have to begin another unbeaten run.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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