2017 Nations Cup Qualifier: Super Eagles Battles Egypt, Tanzania, Chad

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nigeria-starting-line-upAccording to Goal, It could have been better and it could have been worse.

That ought to be Nigeria’s reaction to the qualifying draw to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as the Super Eagles find themselves pooled in Group G alongside Egypt, Tanzania and Chad.

Essentially, Nigeria need to win the group to guarantee progression to the continental showpiece now in Gabon in just under two years’ time.

The two-best second-placed teams also progress, but realistically, with 13 groups, that represents very much a ‘back door’ into the tournament. Considering too that the 2013 champions avoided some of the genuine minnows of the qualifying stage, it’s more likely that the points will be evenly spread in Group G, for example, than in, say, Group M, where Cameroon and South Africa will both be looking to take a maximum 12 points from their double-headers with the Gambia and Mauritania.

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At first glance, it’s a tricky selection.

Indeed, no other group can boast of more than one Afcon victory in the last decade; Nigeria’s group not only have two sides with a recent triumph under their belt, but between them, the Super Eagles and the Pharaohs have won four of the last six tournaments.

A draw against Egypt means a trip to North Africa never an easy prospect and also a meeting with a side desperate to return to their former glory.

The Pharaohs, like the Super Eagles, recently endured the ignominy of failing to qualify for the Nations Cup despite being the reigning African champions.

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However, while for Nigeria, the embarrassment will hopefully only extend to missing one tournament 2015 Egypt, who won three in a row between 2006 and 2010 haven’t returned since. They have been absent for the last trio of Afcons, and also failed heartbreakingly to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after they were tonked by Ghana in Kumasi.

The great iconic figure of that side, and that cycle, Mohamed Abou Trika, has left the scene, and the North African giants are still to truly find their post-glittering generation cycle.

But there is potential aplenty.

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