World Football governing body, FIFA has appointed the two referees that officiated Nigeria’s first two games in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for her upcoming double-header against Cameroon early next month.
Egyptian Ghead Grisha and African referee of the year (2016) Papa Bakary Gassama from The Gambia will be in charge of the games on September 1 and 4 respectively, a release by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Spokesman, Ademola Olajire revealed on Tuesday.
Grisha, centre referee in Nigeria’s 2-1 victory over Zambia in Ndola last October has been named to officiate the first of the two instalments against reigning African Champions, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions, billed for the Southern Nigerian city of Uyo on the first of September.
The next encounter between the two African giants will take place three days later at the Stade Omnisport in Yaounde with Gassama – the arbiter in Uyo when the Super Eagles outclassed Algeria last November – in charge.
Nigeria have a fairly good record with Grisha in charge of her games. The 41-year old was at the centre when Nigeria drew 1-1 with Zambia en route their Africa Nations Cup success in 2013. He was also in charge of the Eagles’ 2-0 win over Congo in Point Noire in November 2014 in a 2015 Nations Cup qualifier.
The Super Eagles will be praying for more of Grisha’s luck like they got in their win over Zambia last year when they face the reigning African Champions in Uyo.
The record is not much different with Gassama in charge as he has presided over two World Cup qualifying wins for Nigeria in the past. Asides the comprehensive victory over Algeria last November, Gassama was also in charge of Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Ethiopia in Calabar late 2013 as the Eagles booked their spot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Gassama and his assistants Claude Birumushahu (from Burundi) and Aden Marwa Range (from Kenya) will be fondly remembered for allowing John Obi Mikel’s goal against Algeria in Uyo to stand despite offside appeals from the Algerians, a decision television replays showed was absolutely correct.
Nigerian fans will hope for more luck with these groups as they hope to consolidate on their leadership position in the Group. Nigeria tops with six points, four more than their nearest challengers and September opponents, Cameroon.