Nigeria stumble to 2nd consecutive draw in World Cup qualifier

Butare: Kelechi Iheanacho equalised to salvage a 1-1 draw for Nigeria against Zimbabwe as both sides opened their World Cup qualifying campaigns with two consecutive draws.

Zimbabwe, hosting games in Rwanda because of a lack of suitable stadiums at home, took the lead in the 26th

minute on Sunday through a free kick by forward Walter Musona, who hammered the ball into the top corner from 30 yards out.

The better side in the first half, Zimbabwe appeared unfazed by the opposition’s pedigree, knocking the ball around confidently and defending solidly when out of possession.

Nigeria came into the game in the second half, though Zimbabwe also had chances to win.

Leicester forward Iheanacho, a second-half substitute for the Super Eagles, scored the equalizer in

the 67th with a clinical finish inside the box after he was set up by captain Moses Simon.

In their opening matches, Zimbabwe drew 0-0 away to Rwanda on Wednesday while Nigeria was surprisingly held to a 1-1 at home draw by Lesotho on Thursday.

The result leaves both teams on two points in Group C, one point behind leader South Africa, which has a game in hand.

The slow start to their qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup will be cause for concern for Nigeria’s coach Jos Peseiro, who was criticized following the draw with Lesotho in Uyo.

Nigeria has been to six World Cups, but failed to qualify for the last edition in Qatar in 2022.

The 63-year-old Portuguese will likely come under pressure again, despite Nigeria’s chances of qualifying this time

around being boosted bythe expansion of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026 in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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