Nigeria’s World Cup hopes dim: Where Super Eagles got it wrong against Benin

Nigeria’s World Cup hopes dim: Where Super Eagles got it wrong against Benin

Nigeria’s hopes of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup have taken a severe hit following a surprising 2-1 defeat to the Benin Republic on Monday evening.

The Super Eagles, who were expected to dominate the encounter at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, now find themselves in a precarious position within their qualifying group.

The match began with high expectations for Nigeria. Raphael Onyedika opened the scoring for Finidi George’s men with a well-executed goal, giving Nigerian fans a brief moment of optimism after their 1-1 draw with South Africa last Friday.

However, the lead was short-lived as Benin Republic’s Jodel Dossou equalized shortly after. Before the halftime whistle, Steve Mounie scored another goal for the Cheetahs, putting them ahead 2-1.

Despite several attempts to regain control in the second half, the Super Eagles failed to break down the resilient Benin defense.

Nigeria’s offensive efforts were repeatedly thwarted, and they struggled to find cohesion and creativity in the final third.

DAILY POST reports that the defeat leaves Nigeria in fifth position in their group, having accumulated only 3 points from four matches.

They are behind leaders Benin Republic, who currently top the group with 7 points. Lesotho is in second position with 5 points, followed by Rwanda (4 points) and South Africa (4 points), while Zimbabwe sits at the bottom of the table with 2 points.

Only Nigeria and Benin Republic have played four matches, while the remaining teams in the group have played three games each. Nigeria now has six matches left to play in the World Cup qualifying series.

Their next World Cup qualifier is against Rwanda on March 17, 2025. After the Rwanda game, they will face Zimbabwe, Rwanda again, South Africa, Lesotho, and Benin Republic.

Nigeria’s current standing is troubling, given that they have already played four matches, while other teams have played only three.

The Super Eagles’ path to qualification is now significantly more challenging, and they will need to maximize points in their remaining fixtures to stand a chance of advancing.

Their defeat to Benin highlights several issues within the team. Despite having a talented squad, Nigeria has struggled with consistency and effectiveness in both defense and attack.

The management and coaching staff will need to address these problems urgently.

Key players must step up, and tactical adjustments are necessary to ensure the team can compete effectively in their upcoming matches.

For Nigeria to revive their World Cup aspirations, a significant turnaround is required. The team must improve defensive stability, enhance midfield creativity, capitalize on home games, and focus on consistency.

Speaking with DAILY POST, Isa Saleh, Co-founder of Borno Junior League, expressed disappointment with the outcome of Nigeria’s defeat to Benin Republic.

“Obviously, the Super Eagles’ journey to the [2026 FIFA] World Cup has hit a significant obstacle after their disappointing defeat to Benin Republic,” Saleh told DAILY POST.

“I was disappointed with the Super Eagles for conceding two goals before halftime after first scoring against Benin Republic.

“To be honest, tactically, Finidi’s men seemed unprepared for Benin’s resilience and counter-attacking prowess. Infact, the midfield struggled to control the game, often losing possession in crucial moments, while the defense failed to handle the pressure exerted by Dossou and Mounie.

“However, with six matches remaining, there is still a glimmer of hope for Nigeria to make it to the World this time around after missing out on the last edition in Qatar.”

When asked what the Super Eagles must do to turn their fortune around in the remaining six matches, Saleh added:

“The team must regroup, strategize, and execute with precision to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

“Their next match against Rwanda next year will be a decisive moment for Nigeria, and a victory could reignite their campaign.

“They [Super Eagles] need consistent performances going forward and dropping points is not an option in their remaining matches.

“As for the coach, Finidi, he needs to get his tactics right and play the best legs to represent Nigeria.”

Nigeria’s World Cup hopes dim: Where Super Eagles got it wrong against Benin

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