The Super Eagles of Nigeria started their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo on Thursday. The Nigerians who will be participating in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament scheduled for Ivory Coast between January and February 2024 were hoping to start their campaign at home with a victory with hopes of making the next FIFA World Cup after missing the 2022 edition in Qatar.
The Super Eagles, led by Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro, were without a lot of their main team players who were missing out due to injury, with the likes of Victor Osimhen and Wilfred Ndidi sitting out of the game.
The visitors, who have never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in their history, held the hosts to a goalless draw at halftime before they took a shock lead from a second-half header in the 56th minute.
After the goal, the home side applied pressure and continued to search for an equalizer, which eventually came in the 67th minute through West Brom defender Semilogo Ajayi. Nigerians hit the upright and had some chances saved by the Lesotho goalkeeper but were unable to find the winner. They will go into Sunday’s fixture against Zimbabwe with the need to win.
Elsewhere, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah scored four times in Egypt’s 6-0 victory over Djibouti. Mohamed Salah scored a brace in each half, while the home side scored two late goals to secure a comfortable victory.
Fellow North Africans, Algeria also eased past Somalia in a 3-1 victory. Other results from the African continent saw Gabon come from behind to beat Kenya 2-1, and Sudan and Togo played out a 1-1 draw.
Cape Verde and Angola played a goalless draw while Burundi beat Gambia 3-2, same result Mozambique beat Botswana 3-2.
Daniel Ademiju Idowu