Wednesday, November 18, 2015 5:15 pm
Watford of England star, Odion Jude Ighalo, has warned his teammates in Nigeria’s Super Eagles to braze up for tough challenges ahead as the journey to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia just started.
Nigeria scaled the second round hurdles with the defeat of Swaziland 2-0 aggregate at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Tuesday evening. The Eagles now joined 19 other teams waiting for the third and final round of the World Cup qualifying series.
On his way to his base in London, Ighalo, who won last month’s English Premier League African Player of the Month award, applauded the efforts put in by both players and coaches of the Eagles to ensure the hard-fought victory over the Swazi. The former player of Julius Berger FC and Crown FC in the Nigerian league warned that it’s not over yet, as the Eagles will be tested further in the third round of the qualifiers.
Ighalo, who has been in form for his EPL side, Watford, this season, scoring seven goals so far, said: “The victory over Swaziland has been a boost for us going into the last round of the qualifying series. I’m so happy that we fought very well for this victory, but I must warn my colleagues that it is not over yet. We still have a lot of work to do as we set sights at the World Cup in Russia. I believe strongly that we will be there.”
When the qualification competition for Russia 2018 started, 53 African countries entered the race. 13 of them were eliminated in the first round, and a further 20 found their hopes of making it to the finals ended after the second round. That leaves 20 teams for whom the dream of a place at the finals continues.
The countries at the end of the second round are Gabon, Zambia, Uganda, DR Congo, Morocco, Guinea, Libya, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Egypt, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Cape Verde, Senegal and Mali.
They will be grouped into five groups where one team from each group will qualify for the World Cup. Africa is presenting five representatives for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.