The anticipation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup continues to grow as the group stage draw unveils the matchups for the prestigious tournament.
In Group C, Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been paired with formidable opponents such as South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Lesotho.
Here are ten key observations that shed light on the Super Eagles’ prospects in this challenging group.
Increased Opportunities for African Teams
The 2026 edition of the World Cup, jointly hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, will be the first competition with 48 participating teams, offering Africa an impressive nine guaranteed spots. A tenth African side can qualify through the playoffs.
With this enlarged field, the Super Eagles have a fantastic chance to secure their place in the tournament.
Super Eagles’ Redemption Quest
If Nigeria qualify, it will mark the Super Eagles’ return to the World Cup after their outing in 2018, where a Gernot Rohr-led team advanced to the finals in Russia with a game to spare.
Interestingly, Rohr now guides the destiny of Benin’s Squirrels, adding an extra layer of competition to the race for a coveted spot in the 2026 edition. This dynamic raises the stakes and ignites the fire of redemption for Rohr and the Super Eagles.
Dominance over Benin
In the annals of their football history, the Super Eagles have never tasted defeat against Benin.
Out of their 14 encounters, the three-time African champions have emerged victorious 12 times and settled for draws on two occasions.
Supremacy against Lesotho
The Super Eagles boast an impressive record against Lesotho, having emerged victorious in all four previous encounters, with an aggregate scoreline of 10-2.
This historical advantage positions Nigeria as the favourite in their upcoming clash.
Past Encounters with Rwanda
Having only faced Rwanda twice in FIFA World Cup qualifying series, Nigeria secured a 2-0 home win and a 1-1 away draw.
Bafana Bafana’s Goalless Struggle
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana are yet to find the back of the net against Nigeria in four previous FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.
The Super Eagles hold the upper hand in this rivalry, boasting three wins and one draw against their southern African opponents.
With a clean sheet record and a ten-goal advantage, Nigeria will aim to maintain their superiority and extend their dominance.
In the only previous World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the Super Eagles secured resounding victories both home (5-1) and away (0-3).
Uncharted Territory against Benin and Lesotho
Interestingly, the Super Eagles have never faced Benin or Lesotho in a World Cup qualifying match.
This fresh challenge brings an air of intrigue as both teams seek to make their mark and test Nigeria’s mettle.
Varied World Cup Histories
Nigeria boast an impressive record with six World Cup appearances since their debut at USA ’94.
In contrast, South Africa have made three appearances, while Benin, Rwanda, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe are eager to make their debut on the global stage.
Road to the World Cup
The qualification campaign for the Super Eagles and their counterparts kicks off on the first weekend of November.