Johannesburg (AFP) – Napoli forward Victor Osimhen scored to set up Nigeria for a 2-0 win over Liberia on Saturday that moved them closer to a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance.
The Super Eagles host Cape Verde in a top-of-the-table Group C clash on Tuesday and will win the section provided they avoid defeat in Lagos.
Nigeria have 12 points and Cape Verde 10 after five rounds while the Central African Republic (four) and Liberia (three) are out of the running.
Should the six-time World Cup qualifiers top the table, they join nine other section winners in a draw that will create five two-leg ties with the winners going to the 2002 finals in Qatar.
Osimhen converted a 15th-minute penalty after Kelechi Iheanacho was fouled and substitute Ahmed Musa added the second goal, also from a spot kick, in added time.
The qualifier was staged in the Moroccan coastal city of Tangiers because no stadium in Liberia meets international standards.
Cape Verde, an island nation of 560,000 people that has never competed at the World Cup, kept their hopes alive by coming from behind to beat the Central African Republic 2-1 in Mindelo.
Julio Tavares netted early in the second half to cancel the lead Isaac Ngoma gave the visitors after 11 minutes, and Ianique ‘Stopira’ Tavares notched the 75th-minute winner.
Ivory Coast will take a one-point lead over Cameroon to Douala on Tuesday for a showdown that will decide who progresses from Group D.
– Cameroon outplay 10-man Malawi –
Goals from Max-Alain Gradel, Burnley forward Maxwel Cornet and Jean-Michael Seri gave the Ivorians a 3-0 win over Mozambique in Cotonou a few hours after Cameroon had outplayed 10-man Malawi 4-0 in Soweto.
Malawian John Banda was red-carded in the opening half for handball and captain Vincent Aboubakar converted the resultant penalty for Cameroon, whose seven World Cup appearances in an African record.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa added a second before half-time and a late brace from substitute Christian Bassogog completed the rout.
Cameroon are the only country in the section able to play at home with the other three teams using neutral venues due to inadequate stadiums.
Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Andre Onana made his first appearance in the qualifying campaign for Cameroon after completing a lengthy doping ban this month.
Group B was thrown open after a close-range thunderbolt from Pablo Ganet gave Equatorial Guinea a 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Tunisia in Malabo.
It was the first goal conceded by the Tunisians in five qualifiers and left them ahead of the Equatoguineans on goal difference with both teams having 10 points.
Zambia kept alive a slim chance of finishing first in the section by hammering Mauritania 4-0 in Lusaka with Rangers forward Fashion Sakala scoring a hat-trick.
Tunisia host Zambia, who are three points behind the leaders, and Equatorial Guinea visit Mauritania on Tuesday in the final round.
Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Senegal have secured play-off places and Ghana or South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo or Benin will join them on Sunday.