Super Eagles in Win or Burst Clash with Gernot Rohr’s Benin in Abidjan


Duro Ikhazuagbe

The 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying clash between Benin Republic and Nigeria in Abidjan today will be the defining moment for the Super Eagles in the race to who picks Group C ticket to the Mundial to be jointly hosted by Canada, USA and Mexico in two years’ time.

After three draws and a miserable three points out of nine has left the three-time African champions strangely in fifth position, Coach Finidi George and his Super Eagles  have no choice but get a win today against the Cheetahs if they want to remain in contention for the top prize.

Interestingly, Eagles will go head-to-head with the Beninoise coached by the same man Nigeria fired from the senior national team job after leading the country to a third place finish at the AFCON 2019 in Egypt and a first round exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in this group having teams generally classified as minnows of African football like Lesotho, Rwanda, Benin Republic, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the Super Eagles have fared badly unable to win a single match out of three. It is the first time such is happening to the team since 1960! 

The draw against South Africa last Friday in Uyo means that Lesotho, who defeated Zimbabwe 2-0 earlier same day, remain top of their Group C standings  with five points, while South Africa, Benin Republic and Rwanda are on four points, with Nigeria on three. Zimbabwe are at the bottom on two points. 

And of course, Coach Finidi George knows the implications of another dismal outing in the series. While signing the contract to take over from Portuguese gaffer, Jose Peseiro, he was told point blank that qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 World Cup was not negotiable, considering the fact that Super Eagles were absent at the last  Mundial in Qatar.

“We’re very much aware of why we are here (in Abidjan) and what we have to do. The players want to go to the World Cup and they have resolved to give their all in every game going forward. We had our opportunities against South Africa on Friday and should have won, but that is gone and we face another challenge now.

“We have resolved not to look too far ahead in this race. The essence is to take it one match at a time. Benin Republic is in our front now, and we must deal with that squarely,” observed Finidi George on arrival in Abidjan on Saturday straight from Uyo.

Eagles will not be strangers to the turf of the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan. It was at that venue they chalked up all three matches they played there during AFCON early in the year.

However, should Finidi repeat his strange template of playing Bright Osayi-Samuel in unfamiliar left back and moving Benjamin Tanimu to inappropriate right side of the defence and also moving Kelechi Iheanacho to right wing, it will not be surprise for the Cheetahs to have Eagles for supper. What use was starting Paul Onuachu when he’s not know to have the type of speed to ginger the Nigerian forward line? Finidi’s failure against Benin will be a bad spell for the indigenous coaches in their aspirations to take over the Super Eagles from foreigners.


Team.                  P.     W.   D.  L.   F.   A.  GD. PTS

Lesotho.               3.      1.     2.  0.   3.   1.      2.   5

Rwanda.               3.      1.     1.   1.   2.     1.     1    4

Benin.                   3.      1.     1.   1.     2.   2.     0.  4

S’Africa.               3.      1.     1.   1.     3.    4.  -1.   4

Nigeria.                3.     0.     3.   0.     3.   3.    0.   3

Zimbabwe.          3.     0.    2.   1.      1.    3.   -2.   2


Djibouti 1-1 Ethiopia

DR Congo 1-0 Togo

Mauritania 0-1 Senegal

São Tomé 0-1 Liberia

Namibia 0-0 Tunisia


Benin v Nigeria

G’Bissau v Egypt 

B’Faso v S’Leone

Somalia v Botswana 

Uganda v Algeria

Guinea v Mo’bique 

E’Guinea v Malawi

Ghana v CAR


Lobi 3-2 Remo Stars 

Abia War 0-0 Insurance

Bayelsa 2-2 Sporting 

Heartland 3-1 Doma 

Rivers Utd 1-0 Shooting

Sunshine 2-0 Akwa Utd

Rangers  0-0 Enyimba

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