• Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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2026 World Cup qualifier: Super Eagles in a precarious start

In its efforts to book a place in the 2026 World Cup, the Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their Group C matches against the Crocodiles of Lesotho rather in a shaky start.

The Nigerian male national football team against all odds saw themselves struggling against the little known team from Lesotho in their first match of the group’s journey to qualifying for the 2026 World Cup being jointly hosted by Canada and Mexico.

It was the Crocodiles who first drew the blood through Motlomelo Mkhwanazi in the early minutes of the second half headed home off a corner to silence the Nigeria at the Godwin Akpabio international stadium on Thursday, November 16, 2023, before defender Semi Ajayi restored parity in the 67th minute in similar fashion.

Ajayi, the West Bromwich Albion central defender headed home a corner by captain Kelechi Iheanacho, who also plays for another championship side, Leicester Football Club.

In a game many Nigerian football lovers thought would be an easy run for their darling Super Eagles, the three times African champions were shocked by the visiting Crocodiles that refused to be feasted on by the eagles.

Many fans of the Super Eagles slammed the team for their lackluster display as the team from Lesotho. The Jose Peseiro led team were vetted with echoes of disapproval from the fan as they frowned at the tactics of the coach and players lack of passion displayed on Thursday night.

Sunny Ufuoma, a football fan criticize the coache’s tactics which he described as purposeless.

“I can’t believe what I saw at Uyo, the Super Eagles tactics was purposeless. The players were playing as they were forced to play.

In fact, I’m afraid Nigeria will not qualify for 2026 World Cup this way,” he said.

Read also: 2026 World Cup qualifiers: Super Eagles committed to start on winning note- Omeruo

Nonso Ugochukwu expressed concerns over the players attitude in the field of play.

“Imagine Super Eagles struggling to even draw against Lesotho, that’s unbelievable, but that’s the reality on ground. Nigeria lacked the bite and zeal to win against the Crocodiles.

It’s unfortunate the Super Eagles could not win even against Lesotho, at least to make us happy. I think they should just sack the coach, he looked lost during the match,” he said.

The Super Eagles were ranked 40th in the world and were expected to thrash Lesotho, who are ranked 153 in Uyo but that was not to be as they had to force a 1-1draw against the determined opponents from Lesotho.

The Super Eagles missed a couple of chances during the match which would have seen them comfortably topping the group.

In the 22 minute, he kept out Jamilu Collins’ shot from inside the box, before he did the same with a free kick by Iheanacho on 34 minutes.

Taiwo Awoniyi then missed a sitter two minutes later after he was set up by Victor Boniface inside the six-yard box.

On the dot of the first half, Ademola Lookman was denied a goal by the impressive Lesotho shot stopper. And the missing syndrome continued till Semiu Ajayi came to the rescue.

However, Nigerians can take solace in the fact that the second Group C match ended in a draw after hosts Rwanda played out a scoreless draw with Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

And leaves South Africa with the chance to go top of the group should they beat Benin in Durban Saturday.

Super Eagles Starting XI (4-4-2) vs Lesotho: Uzoho, Collins (Onyemaechi 73), Osayi-Samuel (Ola Aina 84), Semi Ajayi, Calvin Bassey, Onyeka (Aribo 73), Iwobi, Lookman (Moses Simon 59), Iheanacho, Boniface, Awoniyi (Moffi 59).