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Super Eagles’ World Cup aspirations suffers another big blow



The Super Eagles of Nigeria hopes of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup suffered another dent, as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Benin at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

Nigeria started the game on top, controlling the play and bossing possession. Benin, on the other hand, were content with sitting back and hitting the Super Eagles on the counter.

Nigeria created the better chances, with Ademola Lookman getting close midway into the first half. However, he was unable to find the target.

Nonetheless, the Super Eagles finally got the much-needed goal in the 27th minute. Samuel Chukwueze was the orchestrator, as he received a long pass on the right side of Nigeria’s attack, cut in, and sent a pass to Raphael Onyedika, who was lurking in front of the box. The Club Brugge man made no mistake, as he struck the ball into the left of Benin’s goal.

The lead did not last long, however, as Jodel Dossou capitalized on some shambolic defending from Nigeria’s backline and scored to make it 1-1 after 37 minutes.

Eight minutes later, just before the break, Benin scored again. And it was still because of their poor defending.

The Cheetas won a corner on the right side of their attack. The corner was a poor one, but the Super Eagles did not defend it well. Eventually, it fell to Brest attacker Steve Mounie, who struck the ball into the net with aplomb to make it 2-1.

Nigeria started the second half with more urgency, but they failed to score. Then, Finidi started wringing in the changes, with Victor Boniface, Paul Onuachu, and Ibrahim Olawoyin getting introduced for Samuel Chukwueze, Alex Iwobi, and Bright Osayi-Samuel before the 60th minute. But that did not change anything, as the Super Eagles continued to pile the pressure but failed to create any clear-cut chance.

Then, Remo Stars defender Sodiq Ismail got his debut in the 60th minute. And it was clear that the instruction from Finidi was to spam the area with crosses. Unfortunately, for the Super Eagles, the best they got from that was hitting the cross-bar in the dying embers of the game.

Despite their huffing and puffing, the Super Eagles failed to score and eventually had to settle for the 2-1 loss. The result leaves Finidi George’s side 5th on group C, four points behind leaders Benin.

As it stands, if the Super Eagles fail to win their next games, qualifying for the World Cup will only be a mirage.

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