Former Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr has disclosed that the Super Eagles’ first match in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will not be against either South Africa or Benin, Soccernet.ng reports.
The draw placed Nigeria in a challenging Group C alongside South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Lesotho.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) did not release the official match schedule for the qualifiers on July 13, when the draw ceremony was held.
However, what is certain is that all the teams in Group C will play home-and-away round-robin matches spanning from November 2023 to November 2025.
Interestingly, Rohr, displaying insider knowledge, revealed that Benin’s opening fixture in the campaign would be against South Africa in Cotonou. Following that match, Rohr’s Benin team will travel to face Zimbabwe.
Though acknowledging that Nigeria are considered favourites in Group C, the Franco-German tactician remains determined to lead his Benin team to a historic World Cup qualification.
He expressed, “I can even say that (Group C) is the most demanding group because the two great footballing nations of Nigeria and South Africa, who have World Cup experience, are big chunks. But we are going to join the fight, why not, because there are ten matches, so a mini-championship where everything is possible.”
Elaborating on Benin’s approach to the qualifiers, Rohr mentioned, “For the first match against South Africa that we are playing in Cotonou, at home, we will try to play a very good match, like against Senegal. Afterwards, we will go to Zimbabwe, where it is not easy to play. There are only difficult matches, and we are preparing accordingly.”
The ultimate goal for each group is to produce a winner that will secure a direct qualification spot for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Additionally, the four best group runners-up will advance to a playoff to determine the team that will proceed to the inter-confederation play-offs.