The three-time African champions are aiming to qualify for the World Cup for the seventh time
Nigeria failed to live up to expectations as they only managed a 1-1 draw with Lesotho in their opening match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, Soccernet.ng reports.
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winners were the massive favourites against the lowly Crocodiles. Still, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi gave the visitors the lead before Semi Ajayi saved Nigeria’s blushes with a late equaliser.
How it happened
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.
As expected, the 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, Lookman 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 ten 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.
Despite a late charge at Lesotho’s goal, Nigeria could not muster the winning goal as the Eagles settled for a disappointing draw.
Next, Nigeria will make the trip to Rwanda to face Zimbabwe for their matchday two clash against the Warriors on Sunday.