Eagles slip up in World Cup qualifying race with defeat to Cheetahs

Nigeria’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying hopes hang in the balance after a 1-2 loss to Benin Republic at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan on Monday.

Raphael Onyedika put the Eagles in front after 28 minutes when he cleverly chipped the ball past goalkeeper Marcel Dandjinou from the edge of the box, after a good pass by Samuel Chukwueze.

However, the Cheetahs were back on level terms nine minutes later, when Jodel Dossou profited from a defensive error by Calvin Bassey and Semi Ajayi to race through and flick past an advancing goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

Seven minutes later, the Cheetahs were in front when the Nigerian defence ball-watched from a corner kick, exposing Nwabali once more.

Several changes made in the second half by Coach Finidi George failed to have any meaningful impact as the Eagles simply failed to find the back of the opponents’ net.

Defeat means the Eagles remain on three points from four matches, and are condemned to winning all their remaining six games of the qualification series to have any chance of reaching the finals in Canada, USA and Mexico in two years’ time.

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