The Super Eagles managed to secure a second successive draw, grappling to maintain a 1-1 stalemate against Zimbabwe’s Warriors in Rwanda. The clash unfolded at the Huye Stadium in Butare, marking a pivotal matchday 2 Group C confrontation in their 10-match journey to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
After the earlier 1-1 struggle against Lesotho’s Crocodiles at home in Uyo’s Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Nigeria was well aware of the significance of clinching three crucial points in this game to steer their campaign back on track.
“Securing these three points is pivotal for us to regain our momentum,” noted Coach Jose Peseiro ahead of the match.
Despite this drive, the Super Eagles faced an uphill battle when Zimbabwe’s Walter Musona broke the deadlock with a remarkable 35-yard free-kick that eluded goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
Reflecting on the performance, Peseiro noted, “We lacked the mental strength and determination we aimed to bring after the Lesotho draw.”
The Warriors, having played a game earlier and thus better-rested, exhibited a hunger and determination that overshadowed Nigeria’s efforts.
It wasn’t until the 67th minute that Nigeria found a breakthrough. Moses Simon’s adept ball control set up Kelechi Iheanacho to equalise with a powerful shot past goalkeeper Bernard Donovan.
Attempting to tilt the balance, Peseiro made strategic substitutions, introducing Umar Sadiq and Jamilu Collins, but Zimbabwe’s resolute defence thwarted any further Nigerian advances.
“Zimbabwe’s defence held firm, denying us the opportunity to seize all three points,” lamented Peseiro post-match.
With this draw, Nigeria stands second in the Group C standings with two points from two games, while Zimbabwe trails closely behind in third. South Africa maintains its lead with three points despite having played just one game.
Looking ahead, the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will resume in June 2024, with Nigeria gearing up to host current leaders South Africa before an away game against Benin Republic.