Group C: Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central Africa Republic, Liberia
Unfortunately, apart from Nigeria, none of the nations drawn in this group has appeared at the last three editions of the international showpiece, which is 2010, 2014, and the 2018 editions of the FIFA World Cup. This automatically makes the Super Eagles stand out as group favourites to successfully qualify out of Group C to the next round. Considering the pedigree of the four nations, one can argue that there could be no clear A class game to be featured in the group. Though teams like Cape Verde and the Central African Republic are proving to be potential surprise pullers in Africa, World Cup Qualifiers demand a more experienced side to beat stronger opponents like Nigeria to possibly qualify out of the group. Meanwhile, Liberia is likely to struggle against a rigid side like Cape Verde and share the spoils with the Central African Republic.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have participated in six World Cup finals. They impressively reached the second round at their first appearance in USA 1994. Their most recent outing was the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. In April 1994, the Super Eagles were ranked 5th in the FIFA rankings, the highest FIFA ranking position ever achieved by an African football team.
Throughout history, the team has qualified for six of the last seven FIFA World Cups (as of 2018), missing only the 2006 edition and reaching the round of 16 on 3 occasions.
Their first World Cup appearance was the 1994 edition. With notable players like Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and Victor Osimhen, and also with the experience of 68-year-old German Coach Gernot Rohr, Nigeria is favourites to top group C and make the final round of the African Qualifiers.
The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup final. The Island nation came very close to qualifying for the first time but was disqualified from the playoffs to the Brazil 2014 Edition for fielding an ineligible player in a decisive win over Tunisia.
The team used to play their games at Estádio da Várzea which is located in the capital city, Praia, on Santiago Island. The stadium opened in 2006 holds 10 thousand.
In 2014 a new stadium, Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde was opened, with a capacity of 15 thousand people.
On 15 October 2014 the Blue Sharks qualified for their second Africa Cup of Nations at the new stadium, in a 1–0 victory over Mozambique, making them the first of all teams in CAF to qualify for the tournament.
FC Metz winger, Vagner Dias is a player to watch in this team. Former Cape Verde and footballer, Pedro Leitão Brito who is commonly known as Bubista is the Manager of the Blue Sharks.
Central Africa Republic
Nicknamed Les Fauves du Bas-Oubangui, the team won its first FIFA World Cup Qualifier on June 2, 2012, in a 2-0 win at home against Botswana.
The landlocked country has been one of the weakest teams in Africa. They have never qualified for the World Cup. Despite being traditionally one of the weakest teams in Africa and the world, they achieved success in the 2009 CEMAC Cup by beating Gabon in the semi-finals and Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the final.
Their FIFA ranking rose from 202nd in August 2010 to 89th by July 2011. On 10th October 2010, they earned a shock 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier win at home against Algeria 2–0, which put them top of their qualification group.
Since the creation of the Central African Football Federation in 1961, they are now making their debut at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 2021. This is expected to serve as a morale booster for the team ahead of their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Geoffrey Kondogbia who plays for Atletico Madrid is the Star Player in the team. Spanish-Swiss football coach, Raoul Savoy is leading the team in the qualifiers.
The Lone Stars of Liberia have never qualified for the World Cup. Although Liberia produced the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year, George Weah, they have never reached the world dream.
The Lone Stars have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations just twice—in 1996 and 2002. Liberia football, however, has produced an icon in George Weah who is now the country’s President.
English coach, Peter James Butler will rely heavily on his leading marksman and captain of the team, William Jebor as Liberia embark on a pride restoration mission in Group C.