Leader of delegation, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi insists that though the Super Eagles have already qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and Friday’sencounter in Constantine is purely academic, victory would help erase a past pain inflicted by the Fennecs.
Algeria stopped Nigeria at the last hurdle in the race to the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals in Spain, winning 2-0 in Lagos and 2-1 in Constantine.
“I know we have beaten them several times after that, but that defeat was particularly painful. It was the last hurdle in the race, and having beaten Tunisia, Tanzania and Guinea, the Eagles looked to qualify for their first World Cup finals. But the Algerians defeated us home and away, and their home win was in Constantine.
“I have spoken to the players and they are aiming for a win on Friday. Not only do they want to finish the race unbeaten, they particularly want to win to achieve a double over the Algerians and to set themselves in a great mood for the friendly against Argentina in Russia on Tuesday.”
Should the Eagles avoid defeat on Friday, they would have stretched their FIFA World Cup qualifying unbeaten record to 35 matches, dating back to June 2004 when they lost by a late goal to Angola in Luanda. That defeat proved costly in the race to Germany 2006, as Angola flew to Germany on the basis of head-to-head principle (following a 1-1 draw in Kano) even as the Eagles finished with better goals advantage.
Nigeria’s FIFA World Cup qualifying unbeaten run is the second longest in the world, behind Spain’s 59.
The ‘dead rubber’ situation has taken a little away from what would have been a flaming classic affair at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui. Algeria and Nigeria emerged the best African flagbearers at the last FIFA World Cup in Brazil, being the only teams from the continent to reach the Round of 16. Nigeria lost to France and Algeria lost to eventual runner –up Germany on the same day.
Eagles’ goalkeeper trainer, Alloy Agu, captained Nigeria to the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria, in which the Fennecs thumped the Eagles 5-1 in the opening match and then piped the Nigerians 1-0 in the final match in Algiers.
“Matches between Nigeria and Algeria are always big sessions. Friday’s game will not be different even though we already have the World Cup ticket. There is always so much riding on encounters between both nations,” Agu told thenff.com on Thursday.
That 1990 win remains Algeria’s only Cup of Nations triumph. Incidentally, it was Algeria that Nigeria defeated in the final to win her first Africa Cup of Nations title, back in 1980.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa in land –mass, and the 10th largest in the world. After playing in the largest country in Africa on Friday, the Super Eagles will fly to the largest country in the world on Saturday, for the friendly with Argentina in Krasnodar on Tuesday.
NIGERIA & ALGERIA AT SENIOR LEVEL
10 Jan 1973: Nigeria 2 Algeria 2 – Lagos (All-Africa Games)
28 July 1978: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Algiers (All-Africa Games Final)
22 March 1980: Nigeria 3 Algeria 0 – Lagos (AFCON Final)
10 Oct 1981: Nigeria 0 Algeria 2 – Lagos (World Cup Qualifier)
30 Oct 1981: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 – Constantine (World Cup Qualifier)
10 March 1982: Algeria 2 Nigeria 1 – Benghazi (AFCON)
11 March 1984: Algeria 0 Nigeria 0 – Bouake (AFCON)
15 Jan 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Annaba (Olympics Qualifier)
30 Jan 1988: Nigeria 2 Algeria 0 – Enugu (Olympics Qualifier)
23 March 1988: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 – Rabat (AFCON semi, 8-9 penalties)
2 March 1990: Algeria 5 Nigeria 1 – Algiers (AFCON)
16 March 1990: Algeria 1 Nigeria 0 – Algiers (AFCON Final)
13 July 1993: Nigeria 4 Algeria 1 – Lagos (World Cup Qualifier)
8 Oct 1993: Algeria 1 Nigeria 1 – Algiers (World Cup Qualifier)
21 Jan 2002: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 – Bamako (AFCON)
3 July 2004: Nigeria 1 Algeria 0 – Abuja (World Cup Qualifier)
4 Sept 2005: Algeria 2 Nigeria 5 – Oran (World Cup Qualifier)
30 Jan 2010: Algeria 0 Nigeria 1 – Benguela (AFCON)
12 Nov 2016: Nigeria 3 Algeria 1 – Uyo (World Cup Qualifier)