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WCQ: Eagles play out stalemate with Zimbabwe, continue winless start

WCQ: Eagles play out stalemate with Zimbabwe, continue winless start
November 19
16:25 2023

The Super Eagles of Nigeria failed to beat Zimbabwe in their second game of the 2026 World Cup qualification campaign.

A 67th finish from Kelechi Iheanacho cancelled out a stunning freekick from Walter Musona as the match finished 1-1 at the Huye Stadium in Butare, Rwanda, on Sunday.

The Eagles remain winless in the qualification campaign, having previously drawn Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio stadium on Thursday.

Jose Peseiro, Super Eagles head coach, made six changes to the line-up that started the disappointing home draw to the Basotho.

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Terem Moffi and Nathan Tella came on for Victor Boniface and the injured Taiwo Awoniyi in the team’s attack, while Moses Simon got the nod ahead of Ademola Lookman.

Joe Aribo replaced Kelechi Iheanacho in the hole behind the strikers, and Bruno Onyeamechi and Ola Aina filled both flanks of the defence.

The change in personnel yielded little reward for Nigeria, as the team struggled to exert its dominance against the Zimbabweans.

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The home side struck first in the 25th minute with a powerful freekick from almost 30 yards out. The ball sailed past Francis Uzoho in goal.

Nigeria would not respond until deep into the second half after Peseiro had opted for reshuffling. The Portuguese threw on Bright Osayi-Samuel, Iheanacho and Boniface for Aina, Onyeka and Tella, respectively.

Iheanacho pulled Nigeria level shortly from a well-placed shot after he was set up by Simon.

The next round of 2026 World Cup qualification fixtures is billed for June 2024, after the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast.

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The 2026 World Cup is billed to be jointly hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico. The tournament will be the largest edition of the World Cup, with 48 teams set to participate — an expansion from the previous 32 participants.

There will be nine automatic qualification slots for African countries, with one guaranteed a play-off route to the tournament.

Nigeria was drawn in Group C of the qualification round alongside South Africa, Benin, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

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