Super Eagles Secure Draw Against South Africa in World Cup Qualifier as Nigeria’s Journey to 2026 World Cup Qualification Remains Uncertain

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria played to a 1-1 draw against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in their third match of the 2026 World Cup qualification campaign. The encounter, held at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Friday, marked the first competitive game with Finidi George as head coach.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru’s strike in the first minute of the second half salvaged a point for the Eagles after they fell behind in the 29th minute. South Africa’s Themba Zwane capitalized on a defensive lapse, waltzing through the Nigerian defense to smash the ball past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

Coach Finidi George’s lineup saw Stanley Nwabali in goal, supported by a defensive quartet of Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Tanimu Benjamin. Wilfred Ndidi anchored the midfield alongside Alex Iwobi and Dele-Bashiru. The attack was spearheaded by Paul Onuachu, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Ademola Lookman.

Despite the strong lineup, the Eagles struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, leading to Zwane’s opening goal for South Africa. The absence of Victor Boniface raised eyebrows among fans and analysts, potentially contributing to the team’s lackluster performance in the early stages.

The match took a dramatic turn immediately after the restart. Dele-Bashiru showcased his skill by swiveling past Mothobi Mvala on the edge of the South African goal area, slotting his shot past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams to equalize for Nigeria.

However, the draw leaves Nigeria winless after three games in the qualifiers, having previously drawn with Lesotho and Zimbabwe. The Super Eagles now sit fifth in the qualification log with three points, trailing behind their competitors.

The road to the 2026 World Cup remains challenging for Nigeria as they prepare to face the Benin Republic in Abidjan on Monday. The upcoming match is crucial for the Super Eagles if they hope to revive their qualification campaign and secure a spot in the prestigious tournament.

Read also: 10 Things You Need to Know About Newly Appointed Super Eagles Coach, Finidi George

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