By Kayode Ogundare:
While watching the Nigeria versus Congo game last Saturday, a friend of mine nearly had a heart attack when Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha adjudged Godfrey Oboabona to have handled in the box (although television replays showed the ball had hit him the mid-riff) and pointed to the penalty spot for a penalty just six minutes after Ikechuckwu Uche had given the Super Eagles the lead.
His heart practically stopped beating until Vincent Enyeama (God bless him) guessed correctly and dived low to keep out Thievy Bifouma’s penalty. With that done and Nigeria retaining her lead, my friend kept urging the Super Eagles to lock down the game and see out that victory, slim as it may be. His reason: if we cannot score anymore, then we should not allow the Congolese back into the game.
However, that thinking that Stephen Keshi should park the bus was faulty as a 1-0 win would not have been enough to see us go ahead of the Congolese. And, to his credit, Keshi knew we were skating on thin ice if we relaxed and thought we were home and dry with that slim one goal lead.
One, a one goal lead is easy to cancel and the Congolese were swarming all over the Eagles like bees and could have equalized but for the exceptional brilliance of Enyeama. Two, and more crucially, a second goal will break the resistance of the opposition and drain their fighting spirit.
So Aaron Samuel, burly and built like a tank, was brought on and after setting up Uche with a gilt-edged opportunity which the Villarreal man blasted over the post, the Guangzhou R&F of China striker curled in a left-footer with less than three minutes left on the clock. It was his second goal in as many matches and, though a bright future lay ahead of the 20-year old in the national team, it may be his most important goal yet except, say, he scores the winning goal in the final of the next World Cup.
With that goal, Nigeria now moves ahead of the Congolese (see table). Yes, we are ahead of them, but that’s not because we have a +2 goals difference while they have a -1 GD. According to the CAF rules, the relevant portion which I have excerpted here, when two or more teams are tied on the same number of points, a tie-breaker is to be employed to separate them.
Let me walk you through the Article 14 of CAF’s Regulations of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations and how it would be applied to separate Nigeria and Congo should we still be locked on the same number of points after Wednesday’s games. What I will do is take the subsections one after the other and explain how it applies to the case at hand.