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Nigeria faces World Cup qualifying crisis after draw vs South Africa



Nigeria faces World Cup qualifying crisis after draw vs South Africa

Any hope Nigeria has of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup are hanging by a thread following a 1-1 draw with South Africa on Friday night. The Super Eagles, needing a victory to move to the top of Group C, instead conceded their third consecutive draw in the series, leaving their qualification campaign in jeopardy.

The match, played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, saw South Africa’s Themba Zwane score first, effortlessly navigating the Nigerian defense before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

Nigeria responded early in the second half with Fisayo Dele-Bashiru netting his first goal for the national team, leveling the score.

Despite the equalizer, the result leaves Nigeria in fifth place in Group C with just three points, while South Africa moves up to fourth with four points. The Super Eagles’ head coach, Finidi George, expressed his disappointment with the outcome and stressed the need to focus on the upcoming fixture against Benin Republic.

Nigeria vs South Africa: Super Eagles player rating as Dele Bashiru scores  his first goal - Pulse Sports Nigeria

“We started sloppily in the first half, we took over the game immediately, we scored in the second half,” George told reporters post-match.

“We missed chances, overall it was not a bad second half for us. The players reacted well in the second half, but it was not the best result we wanted. We have to get our heads up and work for the next game (Benin Republic). I am not happy about the point.”

The pressure is now on for Nigeria, as they prepare to face Benin Republic at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Monday. With their World Cup hopes fading, the Super Eagles must secure a win to revive their campaign and keep their dream of competing on football’s biggest stage alive.