2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Nigeria’s Super Eagles 1-1 Draw: Player Ratings

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The Nigerian Super Eagles managed a 1-1 draw against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Christian Nwabali’s Heroic Efforts

The Chippa United goalkeeper, Christian Nwabali, earned a well-deserved rating of 7/10. Nwabali was a formidable presence in goal, denying South Africa three clear-cut chances and frequently stepping up as a sweeper. There was little he could do to stop Themba Zwane’s brilliant goal, which broke the deadlock.

Defensive Shifts and Struggles

Bright Osayi-Samuel, rated 6.4/10, showcased versatility by adapting to an unfamiliar left-back position. Though he struggled to assist Lookman on the left, his forward runs posed a threat to the South African defense. Benjamin Tanimu, rated 6/10, faced challenges at right-back, struggling to support the attack and lacking positional awareness in defense.

Semi Ajayi (6.9/10) and Calvin Bassey (6.5/10) formed the core of Nigeria’s defense. Ajayi’s passing accuracy and duels were commendable, though he faltered during Zwane’s goal. Bassey, playing in central defense, delivered confident passes aiding Nigeria’s build-up play, yet shared responsibility for South Africa’s opener.

Midfield Dynamics and Attacking Drives

Fisayo Ayodele-Bashiru, with a standout rating of 7.1/10, linked midfield and attack brilliantly, scoring his debut goal for Nigeria. Unfortunately, an injury saw him subbed off at the hour mark. Wilfred Ndidi (6.9/10) commanded the midfield, limiting South Africa’s attempts and dictating the game’s tempo.

Alex Iwobi, rated 6.5/10, assisted Nigeria’s equalizer but missed a crucial late-game opportunity. Ademola Lookman (7.2/10) consistently challenged the South African defense, creating multiple chances and nearly scoring, but for Ronwen Hayden-Williams’ impressive save.

Striker’s Woes and Substitutes’ Impact

Paul Onuachu’s performance (5.6/10) was underwhelming, managing only one shot on target in 80 minutes. Kelechi Iheanacho (5.9/10), positioned on the right flank, struggled and was substituted in the 67th minute.

Substitutes brought fresh energy to the game. Alhassan Yusuf (6.6/10) changed Nigeria’s tactical setup and nearly assisted a goal. Samuel Chukwueze (6/10) was effective on the right flank but hit the crossbar, missing a chance to win the match. Raphael Onyedika and Terem Moffi had limited time to make an impact.

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