Super Eagles of Nigeria | Photo: Western Post
The Crocodiles’ Motlomelo Mkhwanazi gave the visitors the lead in the 57th minute before Semi Ajayi of the West Brom saved Nigeria’s blushes with a late equaliser
By Valentine Amanze
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have started their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier on a shaky note as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with the Crocodiles of Lesotho in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Thursday November 16, 2023.
The Crocodiles’ Motlomelo Mkhwanazi gave the visitors the lead in the 57th minute before Semi Ajayi of the West Brom saved Nigeria’s blushes with a late equaliser.
Eagles were on the front foot from the blast of the referee’s whistle, with Taiwo Awoniyi having a slight sniff of goal in the opening few minutes, but the Lesotho backline snuffed out the chance.
Despite Nigeria’s industry, Lesotho’s goalkeeper was not called upon to make any serious save until the 34th minute when Iheanacho tested his palm with a well-struck free-kick.
Moments later, Awoniyi missed another fine chance to get Peseiro’s men in front after good work from Boniface, but the Nottingham Forest man sliced wide with the keeper beaten.
On the stroke of halftime, Lukman fired another effort at goal, but it was kept out as both sides headed for the dressing at the break deadlocked.
The Eagles came close to the opening goal in the opening half, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second period. Motlomelo Mkhwanazi beat goalkeeper Uzoho with the Crocodiles’ first shot on target.
Nigeria needed a huge response, and it arrived in the 67th minute when Semi Ajayi powered home a header off another fine Iheanacho corner-kick to hand the home team the equalizer.
Nigeria’s Head coach Jose Peseiro set up a heavily-attack-minded team with Taiwo Awoniyi leading the charge while Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Boniface were to provide support in and around the box.
Nigeria will make the trip to Rwanda to face Zimbabwe for their matchday two clash against the Warriors on Sunday.
Recall that Zimbabwe had on Wednesday drew with Rwanda in Kigali.
The three-time African champions – Super Eagles – are aiming to qualify for the World Cup for the seventh time.