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Nigeria docked points, World Cup qualification unaffected

Nigeria drew 1-1 but Fifa awarded the match to Algeria by a 3-0 scoreline after the Super Eagles fielded the ineligible Abdullahi Shehu.

FILE: Nigeria's players celebrate after an international friendly football match between Argentina and Nigeria in Krasnodar on 14 November 2017. Picture: AFP.

ZURICH - Nigeria have been docked two points for fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier against Algeria but their place at next year’s finals in Russia has not been affected, Fifa said on Tuesday.

Nigeria, who had already qualified for the finals, drew 1-1 but Fifa awarded the match to Algeria by a 3-0 scoreline after the Super Eagles fielded the ineligible Abdullahi Shehu who had failed to serve a one-match ban for accumulated yellow cards.

“This sanction bears no impact on the final result of the preliminary competition for the Fifa World Cup since Nigeria had already qualified (and Algeria were eliminated) before the match took place,” soccer’s world governing body said in a statement.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said on Twitter that it accepted the decision. “The NFF president (Amaju Pinnick) has directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with,” it added.

Pinnick said: “I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organization of the Technical Department.”

Nigeria, who topped African Group B, finished on 12 points instead of 14, four clear of second-placed Zambia. Algeria still came bottom of the standings.

Nigeria will face Iceland, Croatia and Argentina in their World Cup group in Russia.

East Timor had forfeited seven of the 10 games they played in the World Cup qualifiers for fielding nine players who were ineligible because of nationality.

This was based on a decision previously taken by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) which has annulled 29 matches involving East Timor and barred the team from the 2023 Asian Cup. The nine players were all born in Brazil.

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