SportsNigeria's World Cup Hopes Hang In Balance After Benin Defeat

Nigeria’s World Cup Hopes Hang In Balance After Benin Defeat

June 10, (THEWILL) – The Super Eagles are facing a challenging time in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The team suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Cheetahs of Benin Republic, coached by ex-Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, on Monday evening in Abidjan. This loss leaves the Super Eagles without a victory in four matches in the qualifying series, having drawn their first three games.

The match saw the Super Eagles trailing into the second half for the second consecutive time. Despite not starting brightly, they took the lead through Raphael Onyedika’s debut goal. However, a blunder by Calvin Bassey enabled Jodel Dossou to equalise for Rohr’s men. In the third minute of added time in the first half, Brest attacker Steve Mounie fired home in the box as the Eagles failed to clear a corner kick.

In an attempt to turn the tide, Coach Finidi George introduced Victor Boniface and Paul Onuachu, replacing the ineffective Terem Moffi and Alex Iwobi. Despite these changes, the team struggled with communication, as evidenced by a missed opportunity between Ademola Lookman and a better-placed Onuachu from a Chukwueze cross in the 54th minute. Further changes were made before the hour mark, with Ibrahim Olawoyin making his debut for Samuel Chukwueze and another debutant, Ismaila Sodiq, replacing the injured Bright Osaka-Samuel.

Glo

The Super Eagles’ desperation was evident in the 80th minute when Boniface and Onuachu collided. Despite a promising delivery from Olawoyin that saw Lookman’s header deflect off a Beninese defender for a corner kick, the team failed to capitalize. Lookman had a chance to shoot or pass to Onuachu on the dot of 90 minutes, but he did neither, settling for a corner.

The final whistle from Gabonese referee Pierre Ghislain Atcho marked the end of a disappointing outing for the Super Eagles. With only three points from three draws after the first four matches, the team is lagging behind Rohr’s Benin, who lead Group C with seven points. The next set of matches is in March 2025 when the Eagles will travel to Kigali to face Rwanda and then host Zimbabwe.

The Super Eagles and their coaching crew must take a hard look at their performance and strategy. The team’s current form is far from satisfactory and significant improvements are needed if they are to stand a chance in the upcoming matches. The coaching crew, in particular, needs to address the team’s defensive lapses and lack of effective communication on the pitch. The road to the 2026 World Cup is proving to be a tough one for the Super Eagles and it is high time they rose to the challenge.

About the Author

Jude Obafemi

Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.

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Jude Obafemi, THEWILLhttps://thewillnews.com
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.

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