On Saturday, Nigeria’s Super Eagles will square up with the Lone Stars of Liberia in the reverse fixture of their second round World Cup qualifying group games. It will be the sixth time both countries would be meeting in the World Cup since their first clash in 1984 enroute the 1986 World Cup.
Here’s what happened on each of the five previous meetings between Nigeria and their West African neighbours…
1. Nigeria 3 (Humphrey Edobor 7′, 15′, Ademola Adeshina 78′) – 0 Liberia
1986 World Cup Qualifiers. 20 Oct, 1984. National Stadium, Surulere.
Nigeria Line-up: Peter Rufai, Stephen Keshi, Henry Nwosu, John Chiedozie, Ademola Adesina, Wahab Adesina, Sunday Eboigbe, Humphrey Edobor, Bright Omokaro, Samson Ozogula (Richard Owubokiri 46′), Yisa Shofoluwe
ON THAT DAY: Nigeria, runners-up at the AFCON few months earlier, hosted the first leg of the qualifying series in Lagos and soon raced to a two-nil lead within the first quarter of an hour through Humphrey Edobor’s brace before easing their foot off the gas. Midfielder Ademola Adesina scored within the last quarter hour to start with a comprehensive win.
2. Liberia 0-1 (Clement Temile 42) Nigeria
FIFA World Cup Africa 1st round. 04 Nov, 1984. Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Monrovia
Nigeria Line-up: Peter Rufai, Stephen Keshi, Henry Nwosu, Wahab Adesina (Benjamin Nzeakor 32′), Sunday Eboigbe, Humphrey Edobor, Bright Omokaro, Samson Ozogula, Yisa Shofoluwe, Disu Tajudeen (Samson Siasia 22′), Clement Temile. Cards: Sunday Eboigbe (Y)
ON THAT DAY: Two weeks later, both sides were to meet for the reverse fixture in Monrovia and the hosts put up a spirited display but Nigeria, featuring as many as five Flying Eagles players who had featured at the U-20 World Cup the previous year, proved too hot for the Liberians to curtail and Nigeria won again with a Clement Temile goal in the first half. The Eagles went on to defeat Kenya 6-1 (3-0, 3-1) aggregate in the second round before falling 2-1 over two legs to Tunisia in the third round and thus narrowly missing the World Cup in Mexico.
3. Liberia 2 (Christopher Wreh 4′, 48′) – 1 (Sunday Oliseh 49′) Nigeria
FIFA World Cup Africa group B. 09 July 2000. Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Monrovia
Nigeria Line-up: Ndubuisi Egbo, Rabiu Afolabi, Christopher Kanu, Godwin Okpara, Garba Lawal (Jonathan Akpoborie 70′), Jay Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Benedict Akwuegbu (Henry Nwosu 76′), Pius Ikedia (Henry Onwuzuruike 76′), Nwankwo Kanu, Chikelue Iloanusi. Cards: Benedict Akwuegbu (Y)
ON THAT DAY: Another 16 years passed before both countries were paired together in the same World Cup qualifying group. In the previous round, Nigeria had over-powered Eritrea 4-0 on aggregate but shoddy preparations and non-challance by players and officials were responsible for Nigeria’s first loss in World Cup qualifiers. Christoper Wreh’s brace was halved by captain Sunday Oliseh five minutes into the second half but the Lone Stars held on for a famous win.
4. Nigeria 2 (Nwankwo Kanu 11′, Victor Agali 59′) – 0 Liberia
FIFA World Cup Africa group B. 05 May 2001. Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt
Nigeria Line-up: Ike Shorunmu, Eric Ejiofor (Emeka Ifejiagwa 80′), Taribo West, Joseph Yobo, Justice Christopher, Garba Lawal, Sunday Oliseh (Pascal Ojigwe 43′), Finidi George, Victor Agali, Tijani Babangida (Duke Udi 61′), Nwankwo Kanu. Cards: Victor Agali, Eric Ejiofor (Y)
ON THAT DAY: 10 months to the day they slumped to a shock defeat in Liberia, the Super Eagles had the chance to avenge that loss when the Lone Stars came to Port Harcourt and, in a feisty encounter which saw yellow cards to Victor Agali and Eric Ejiofor, Nigeria exacted their pound of flesh with goals from Nwankwo Kanu and Agali.
A comprehensive 3-0 win over Ghana in the final group game earned Nigeria a ticket to their third straight World Cup.
5. Nigeria 2 (Kelechi Iheanacho 22′, 45′) – 0 Liberia
FIFA World Cup Africa 2nd round group C. 03 Sept 2021. Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Nigeria Line-up: Maduka Okoye, Ola Aina, Leon Balogun, Jamilu Collins, William Troost-Ekong, Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo (Peter Etebo 85′), Alex Iwobi (Abdullahi Shehu 85′), Moses Simon (Samuel Kalu 78′), Kelechi Iheanacho (Ahmed Musa 85′), Victor Osimhen (Paul Onuachu 78′)
ON THAT DAY: Nigeria began the quest for a seventh World Cup appearance with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Lone Stars of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, a first World Cup qualifying game at the ground for the national team. Two first half goals by Kelechi Iheanacho set the Super Eagles on the path to victory and they have sat top of the log since that Matchday 1.
Both teams have met a total of 14 times in all competitions with five of those coming in international friendlies and another three in AFCON qualifiers. The Super Eagles have won nine and drawn two of their meetings with Liberia winning just three.