BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
A draw away to Cameroon and home and away wins over hapless Algeria have given Zambia the impetus to dream of beating Nigeria in their 2018 World Cup qualifying tie on 7 October billed for Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
The Chipolopolo have stated on their Facebook page that they would make Nigerian fans weep like their Algerian counterparts after the game, which they buttressed with a photograph of a young Algerian boy weeping profusely after the North Africans fell 1-0 in Constantine last week.
The statement reads: “Picture paints a thousand words…Poor lad! More of the same in Nigeria team CHIPOLOPOLO!! #ALGZAM.”
The Super Eagles have dominated the Chipolopolo in the last two decades, with Zambia’s last victory on December 13, 1997, but their head coach, Wedson Nyirenda says the Chipolopolo are eager to end a 20-year winless streak against Nigeria in Uyo.
His infectious optimism is shared by Zambia Sports Fans Association patron, Peter Makembo, who is also upbeat the Chipolopolo will overcome Nigeria this time.
Speaking to The Zambia Mail in an interview in Lusaka, Makembo said that the two victories over Algeria have given Chipolopolo players the hunger for success.
Most Zambians believe the Super Eagles are running scared, premising their conviction on Gernot Rohr’s statement the match will be between the two best teams on the continent, based on current form.
The interview granted a local Nigerian television station by the German coach, published in the Monday edition of Zambia Observer and titled: ‘Are Nigeria now scared of Zambia?’
“The two best teams in Africa now are Nigeria and Zambia. It will be an interesting but difficult game against Zambia, who we beat 2-1 in Ndola, but they have changed and succeeded,” Rohr said.
“It’s an important game and we have it in our hands to win. If we have our players fit, we will be at the World Cup. I hope we repeat what we did against Cameroon.”
Leaders Nigeria are just three points ahead of 2nd placed Zambia on 10 and 7 points respectively with two Group B matches left to play.
Nigeria are unbeaten in Group B with three wins and a draw while Zambia have kicked into form since losing 2-1 in their opening qualifier at home to Nigeria last October.
Wedson Nyirenda’s side rebounded with a 1-1 away draw against Cameroon last November before collecting 3-1 home and 1-0 away wins over Algeria this month.
Nigeria flattened Cameroon 4-0 in Uyo on September 1 before drawing 1-1 on September 4 in Yaounde. A win at home to Zambia takes Nigeria to next year’s Mundial in next, irrespective of results of final day’s fixtures.
Nigeria host Zambia while Cameroon with three points welcome Algeria, who have a point.
Team MP W D L F A D P
Nigeria 4 3 1 0 10 3 +7 10
Zambia 4 2 1 1 6 4 +2 7
Cameroon 4 0 3 1 3 7 -4 3
Algeria 4 0 1 3 3 8 -5 1