• Friday, December 08, 2023
businessday logo


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

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

Ahead of Nigeria’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho, Super Eagles defender Kenneth Omeruo, has assured Nigerians that the three-time African champions are committed to kick-starting the qualifying series on a winning note.

Nigeria will do battle against Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Thursday from 5pm Nigeria time, with three points at stake, and then fly to Butare in Rwanda to take on the Warriors of Zimbabwe in a Day 2 encounter on Sunday.

Read also: Is Super Eagles AFCON ready?

Nigeria were absent at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the team is ensuring a solid start to the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals that will be hosted by three nations; USA, Mexico and Canada.

Omeruo further noted that the Super Eagles will not be under-rating any of the opponents in their first match of the 10-match series that stretches over the next 47 months.

“Most of us in the team still remember how painful it was not to be part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The memory lingers but then, that is gone. This is a fresh opportunity and we all want to be at the next one,” Omeruo said.

“There is always the temptation to over-think how to process the campaign, but it is a long one and we have opted to think and plan for only the match ahead of us. On Thursday, we will play Lesotho. We remember them from our 2021 AFCON qualifiers. After the final whistle on Thursday, we can then start thinking about the next opponents.”

In their 2021 AFCON fixture, the Eagles won 4-2 in Maseru with hefty contributions from Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who got two goals and assisted two. In the return match at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos in March 2021, Osimhen scored one and assisted one in the 3-0 defeat of the visitors that ensured the Eagles finished the qualification series unbeaten.

However, Osimhen and AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze will not be available for the match as both players are currently injured.

“We have a number of players missing due to injury or some other circumstance; we have to deal with that. Those of us who are available must step up to the plate and do the job,” Omeruo added. Winger Samuel Chukwueze, who got a goal against the Crocodiles in that first clash in Maseru, is also out injured.

All the 23 invited players have arrived at the Super camp in Uyo, and trained at the training pitch of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Tuesday.

Read also: FIFA ranking: Super Eagles retains 40th position

In the six-team Group C, the Eagles will host South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and then play away to Benin Republic in June 2024, before a run of six matches between March and October 2025 that will determine the winner, and the team eligible from the pool to fly Africa’s flag in USA, Canada and Mexico in the summer of 2026.