In a somewhat disappointing start to their campaign for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria’s Super Eagles managed only a 1-1 draw against Lesotho’s Crocodiles. The Group C Match Day 1 fixture, played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, ended in a draw despite expectations of a Nigerian victory.
Unexpected Challenge from Lesotho
Ranked 153rd by FIFA, Lesotho was not anticipated to pose a significant challenge to the Super Eagles. However, Motlomelo Mkwanazi’s 56th-minute goal from a corner-kick gave the underdogs a surprising lead, putting pressure on the Nigerian team.
Nigeria’s Struggle for Dominance
The Super Eagles struggled to convert their chances into goals. Their attacking line, led by stand-in captain Kelechi Iheanacho alongside Ademola Lookman, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Victor Boniface, failed to significantly test Lesotho’s goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane. Moerane’s exceptional performance in goal further thwarted Nigeria’s attempts to dominate.
Key Moments of the Match
The match saw several notable moments, including Lesotho nearly taking the lead early on and Nigeria’s consistent offensive efforts. Iheanacho’s dipping shot from a 20-yard free-kick and a missed chance by Awoniyi in the first half highlighted Nigeria’s attempts to seize control. However, Lesotho’s resilient defense and goalkeeping kept the Super Eagles at bay.
Equalizer from Semi Ajayi
Centre-back Semi Ajayi’s powerful header from Iheanacho’s corner-kick in the 67th minute brought Nigeria level. This goal revived hopes for a Nigerian victory, but despite several free-kick opportunities, the Super Eagles could not capitalize further.
Subsequent Efforts and Result
Despite the introduction of players like Moses Simon and Terem Moffi, Nigeria couldn’t break the deadlock, ending the game in a draw. Each team took a point from the encounter, leaving the Super Eagles with much to ponder.
The Super Eagles will next face the Warriors of Zimbabwe in Butare, Rwanda, for the Match Day 2 fixtures at the Huye Stadium on Sunday. This upcoming match presents an opportunity for Nigeria to bounce back and position themselves better in their quest for World Cup qualification.