2026 World Cup qualifiers: Super Eagles suffer defeat to Benin in Abidjan

‘Super Eagles are not ready for World Cup’ – Nigerians react

The Super Eagles of Nigeria suffered their first loss of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, going down 2-1 to neighbours Benin at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny on Monday evening.

Finidi George’s first official game as manager ended in a 1-1 draw with South Africa in Uyo last Friday which dropped them to second from bottom on the table while the Cheetahs defeated Rwanda in Abidjan to move up to third.

The Super Eagles started the better side and Fenerbahce full-back Bright Osayi-Samuel had the first opportunity in the 12th minute with a fierce low shot but it went wide off target.

Benin had a golden chance to go ahead from a corner kick in the 25th minute but Junior Olaitan was unable to react to it as the linesman raised his flag for offside. Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was still alert in claiming the ball.

The floodgates finally opened in the 28th minute when Club Brugge midfielder Raphael Onyedika fired the ball in exquisitely from the edge of the penalty area for his first international goal.

Benin levelled things nine minutes later when Jodel Dossou evaded his marker before beating Nwabali and cooly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. The Sochaux man however could not continue the game as he was in discomfort and was replaced by Lorient forward Tosin Aiyegun.

OGC Nice forward Terem Moffi had a great chance to double Nigeria’s lead before the halftime break but he failed to connect with Ademola Lookman’s weighted pass. Benin would be the ones to go into the break with the lead as talisman Steve Mounie scored from close range via a quickly-taken corner kick.

Finidi brought on forwards Pual Onuachu and Victor Boniface in the 51st minute to add more firepower in attack and Lookman was close to making it 2-2 three minutes after the duo’s introduction but his header from Samuel Chukwueze’s cross failed to threaten Benin goalkeeper Marcel Dandjinou.

The Europa League champion had another opportunity to send a header in via substitute Ibrahim Olawoyin’s cross in the 84th minute but it went begging again.

The result sent Benin top of Group C, two points ahead of Lesotho who play Rwanda on Tuesday while Nigeria remain second from bottom.

In other simultaneous qualifying results, Algeria defeated Uganda 2-1 in Group G in Kampala while in Group A, Egypt played out a 1-1 draw with Guinea-Bissau in Bissau.

Earlier in the day, Botswana defeated Somalia in Maputo while Equatorial Guinea defeated Malawi 1-0.

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