Nigeria’s challenging start to the African 2026 World Cup qualifiers continued with a 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe.
The Super Eagles, after a disappointing draw with Lesotho, now have two points from their first two Group C games, where only the top team earns automatic qualification.
South Africa has an opportunity to establish a four-point lead in the group when they face Rwanda on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe had a promising start, netting a goal in the 26th minute courtesy of Walter Musona, maintaining the lead until halftime.
The 2013 AFCON champions had their point man Victor Osimhen as well as Taiwo Awoniyi struggle to impose themselves on the game.
At halftime, Jose Peseiro opted for three substitutions, introducing Victor Boniface, Kelechi Iheanacho and Osayi-Samuel, for Ola Oina, Onyeka and Nathan Tella.
The Super Eagles equalized in the 67th minute with Kelechi Iheanacho’s left-footed shot from the center of the box.
Nigeria continued their pursuit of the winning goal in the late stages of the match, but the Warriors remained firm in defence.
Zimbabwe are among the 19 African countries forced to move their home qualifiers to neutral venues because of poor facilities or security concerns.
Nigeria, with six previous World Cup appearances, missed out on qualification for the last edition in Qatar in 2022
This means the 63-year-old Portuguese coach is expected to face renewed pressure.
However, Nigeria’s prospects of qualifying have been enhanced by the tournament’s expansion from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026 in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
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In other matches, Mozambique lost 2-0 at home to Algeria in Group G, while Gabon beat Burundi 2-1 in Group F.