South Africa hold Nigeria in 2026 World Cup qualifier

South Africa held Nigeria 1-1 on Friday to keep the Super Eagles without a victory in their 2026 World Cup qualifying Group C.

The stalemate saw Nigeria drop to fourth in the table with three points from as many matches with South Africa third on four points.

Minnows Lesotho, ranked 149th in the world, are top of the Group C standings with five points on the back of a 2-0 win over Zimbabwe earlier on Friday.

Rwanda are second with four points and a better goal difference than both Benin and South Africa.

Friday’s match in the southern Nigerian town of Uyo was a repeat of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final in the Ivory Coast, which also ended 1-1 before Nigeria won on penalties.

The hosts started brightly with Paul Onuachu, Ademola Lookman and Benjamin Tanimu having shots at goal in the first half.

South Africa gradually settled into the game.

A Teboho Mokoena free kick brushed off the crossbar with Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali beaten.

The visitors were rewarded in the 29th minute, when Themba Zwane took on the Nigerian defence on his own before he fired home the opening goal.

Tanimu came to the rescue of the Super Eagles after 36 minutes, when goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was beaten by a chipped effort, but the Tanzania-based defender headed to safety.

But Alex Iwobi teed up Fisayo Dele-Bashiru for the equaliser after the break as Bafana Bafana often tore through the Nigerian defence.

Both sides had their chances to break the deadlock in the second half.

South Africa continued to pour forward, but Elias Mokwana failed to finish off another sleek attacking move while visiting goalkeeper Ronwen Williams cleared an Onuachu header.

And Williams denied Atalanta forward Lookman in stoppage time when he turned away a goal-bound effort for a corner.

Group C remains wide open with Nigeria, two points adrift of Lesotho in fifth place, hoping to register their first win away against Benin on Monday, with South Africa playing at home against Zimbabwe on Tuesday.


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