The Super Eagles have been drawn in Group C alongside South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Lesotho in the Confederation of African Football draws for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, with the winner only guaranteed direct qualification to the tournament.
The preliminary draw to compete for a place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup by African countries was decided on Thursday in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, with every country having a chance to be among the 9 African representatives for the tournament.
As a result, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have been placed in Group C following their non-appearance at the last edition hosted in Qatar, Soccernet.ng examines the Super Eagles’ opponents’ strengths and weaknesses that could play factors in determining Nigeria’s chances of securing a ticket to the tournament that will be jointly hosted in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Due to nine teams now directly qualifying instead of five following the tournament’s expansion to 48 countries, the Super Eagles have five other countries to contend with in their group.
They have been drawn in Group C with South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Lesotho.
Strengths: South Africa have not been able to make an impact recently in African football, as evidenced by their past domination in the 1990s, correlating with their sole Nations Cup title in 1996. The Banyana Banyana have failed to qualify for the World Cup since they hosted it back in 2010.
Due to their well-organized league, most of their players stay at home and play in the South African Premier League.
They are a side that likes to dominate possessions by keeping the ball away from the opponent and also have fast players who are good at counter-attacking opponents.
As a result of their setup, they can create a lot of chances and score goals.
Weaknesses: On their flaws, they do not boast the best of talents. The lack of football experience at the highest levels is another factor that could work against them.
Also, due to their style, they could be caught re-haggard in leaving the defense open, and this could spell trouble for them against a team like the Super Eagles parading some of the best attacking players in Europe right now like Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi, Gift Orban and Victor Boniface.
Best players: Since most of their players ply their trades on the continent, Al-Ahly’s Percy Tau and Orlando Pirates’ Zakhele Lepasa are two players that could cause trouble for the Super Eagles defense
Strengths: Benin is not a football powerhouse and has never featured in the World Cup, but they might want to have a say this time around after the appointment of former Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr, who guided Nigeria to the 2018 edition in Russia.
Their tall players are good at set pieces and also at winning aerial duels.
Weakness: They do not boast quality attacking players, and it is evidenced in their struggles to create chances to score goals.
Best Players: As the German coach will try to use his best legs available against the Super Eagles, Brest forward Steve Mounie and Zurich midfielder Tosin Aiyegun will be standout players in their quest for a maiden World Cup appearance.
Strength: Zimbabwe are another African country that has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals, but has qualified for the African Cup of Nations five times.
The country is experiencing one of the darkest periods in its football history as a ban that has prevented them from participating in the ongoing Nations Cup qualifiers has just been lifted by FIFA.
Due to their physical strength, they are a side that likes to use their power against their opponents and are also good at winning aerial duels.
Weakness: talking about their frailties, they do not boast the best talents, and their player’s lack of exposure at the highest levels is another factor that can work against them.
Best Players: the country does not boast plentiful talents across the World like Nigeria, but Reim’s Marshall Munesti and Knowledge Musona will be the star players to spearhead Zimbabwe’s charge for a maiden World Cup appearance.
Strength: Rwanda are not one of the footballing nations on the continent, never participated in the World Cup, and has only qualified for the Nations Cup on just one occasion in 2004.
Because of their defensive strength, they are a side that likes to give out possessions to the opponents, sitting deep to soak up the pressure, and trying to catch opponents on the break.
Weaknesses: They do not boast quality players and lack experience in football at the highest level.
Their lack of attacking strength is also evidenced in the ongoing Nations Cup qualifiers where they have managed to score only 2 goals in 5 matches.
Best players: Steve Rubanguka who plays in Moldova is the only player in the squad in their recent match that plays in a top-flight league in Europe.
Strength: Lesotho is a minnow in African football and has never participated in the Nations Cup, but it must be said that they have been making progress in recent years.
They based their style on their pacy wingers, who like to run with the ball and cross to the opponent’s box. They also have tall players who can rely on set pieces to score their goals.
Weaknesses: They do not boast of talents and lack experience in football at both the local and international stage
Their struggle to score goals is evidenced in the ongoing Nations Cup qualifiers where they have managed just a goal in five matches.
Best Players: Sera Motebang and Katleho Makateng are the country’s stars who ply their trades in the South African League.