Sen. John Owan-Enoh, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, has voiced his concerns over the Super Eagles’ recent performance against Lesotho, emphasizing the crucial nature of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. This statement comes in the wake of Nigeria’s underwhelming 1-1 draw with Lesotho in their opening match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.
The minister, who was among the spectators at the stadium, expressed disappointment with the outcome, noting that it fell short of the nation’s expectations. He underscored the government and the public’s high stakes in the Super Eagles’ success, especially following their absence from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. For Nigeria, a country with a rich footballing heritage, securing a spot in the 2026 World Cup is seen as non-negotiable.
Owan-Enoh has called on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the team’s technical crew to critically assess and address the lapses observed during the Lesotho match. He stressed the importance of a stronger showing in their next game against Zimbabwe, scheduled for Sunday, November 19, in Rwanda.
In addition to team performance, the minister highlighted broadcasting issues that prevented many Nigerians from watching the national team’s game. Recognizing that the television broadcasting rights for the qualifiers are controlled by FIFA, Owan-Enoh urged the NFF to convey Nigeria’s dissatisfaction to the international football governing body. He emphasized the need to ensure that Nigerians can watch their team play on home soil, advocating for better broadcasting arrangements in the future.
The minister’s statement reflects the high expectations placed on the Super Eagles and the significant role football plays in Nigeria’s national identity. He called for unwavering support from all Nigerians and urged the team to sharpen their gameplay as they progress through the qualifying series. This response underlines the government’s commitment to not only the team’s success but also ensuring that football remains accessible and enjoyable for its vast fan base in Nigeria.