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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Zambia can keep the qualifying battle alive

Nigeria's John Obi Mikel controls the ball against Sweden
1 of 1

World Cup qualifier
BT Sport 3, 5pm Saturday

Nigeria got themselves into pole position in African World Cup qualifying Group B thanks to a 2-1 win in Zambia a year ago, but the Super Eagles take on very different-looking opponents in Uyo on Saturday.

Zambia were just 15 days into Wedson Nyirenda’s reign when these nations clashed in Ndola, with Nyirenda seen as nothing more than a caretaker.

Twelve months on and Nyirenda has presided over a massive upturn in the team's fortunes having qualified for next year’s African Nations Cup, left Algeria and Cameroon in their wake in World Cup qualifying and presided over a run of just two defeats in 16 internationals.

Mighty Nigeria are hard to oppose on home soil but they under pressure and quite capable of freezing, so Zambia are worth backing to avoid defeat and take the qualification battle to the final round of matches in November.

That would still leave Nigeria in the box seat – the Chipopolo really need to win in Uyo to have a realistic hope of overhauling Gernot Rohr’s men – but this clash could well leave some scars.

Saturday football columns

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

Dan Childs

Nigeria’s home record has been solid – they beat Algeria 3-1 and Cameroon 4-0 – and top-class midfielders Jon Obi Mikel and Wilfred Ndidi should be confident of setting the tempo against the visitors.

Victor Moses is also fit while Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho bring Premier League class to the attack.

The Zambia squad are young and they, too, boast danger men including Salzburg striker Patson Daka. 

Zambia or draw double chance
1pt 9-5 bet365, Betfair

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They under pressure and quite capable of freezing, so Zambia are worth backing to avoid defeat
E.W. Terms
Sky bet