Central African Republic left it extremely late as they secured a shock 1-0 win over Nigeria at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos on Thursday.
Nigeria were heavy favourites going into the double header 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers after victories over Liberia and Cape Verde in September.
Central African Republic, on the other hand, had just a point from two games with a draw against Cape Verde and 1-0 loss to Liberia.
Nigeria were missing key players including Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Watford midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo both through injury.
Genk’s Paul Onuachu was also excused from Thursday’s game despite making the squad for the double header.
However, the Super Eagles were loaded with an in-form frontline that includes Napoli’s Victor Osihmen who was recently named Serie A’s player of the month for September, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi.
Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr started the game with Iheanacho and Victor Osihmen upfront while Taiwo Awoniyi was only a second half substitute and he came close to scoring his first goal for the senior national team on his debut but his low strike was deflected off for a corner.
The chance was Nigeria’s biggest of the game which highlights how the West Africans struggled to break down their opponents.
The defining moment came in the final minutes when CAR broke on the counter in the final minutes as substitute Karl Namnganda got the better of defensive pair of Watford’s William Troost Ekong and Rangers’ Leon Balogun to slot past Francis Uzoho.
The win is CAR’s first since 2019 and puts them on four points and in third position behind Cape Verde in second just on goal difference.
Nigerian retains the top of the table with six points and two more than Cape Verde who came from behind to beat Liberia earlier on Thursday as well.
Nigeria will travel to Douala, Cameroon for the second leg on Sunday afternoon.
Written by: Daniel Ademiju Idowu