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2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Are the Super Eagles truly ready?
- Jose Peseiro's Super Eagles will begin their World Cup qualifying quest against Lesotho
- One of the major tasks saddled with the tactician is to secure World Cup qualification for Nigeria
- Anything short of victory against the Crocodiles could put the tactician's job on the line
There are no more hiding places for Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr as the real task begins on Thursday, November 16, when his team begins their campaign to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Nigeria are drawn in Group C of the CAF qualifiers alongside Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Benin and Rwanda.
They take on Lesotho in their first game of the qualifiers at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo before traveling to Rwanda to face Zimbabwe on Match Day 2, four days later.
The qualifiers will run until 2025, and the top team picks an automatic ticket to the global showpiece billed to be hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Why was Jose Peseiro employed?
On May 15, 2022, the Nigeria Football Federation appointed the Portuguese tactician, which came months after Gernot Rohr was fired.
Augustine Eguavoen had held the position on an interim basis, but the former player failed to qualify Nigeria for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after being edged out by the Black Stars of Ghana.
Nigeria also crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the Round of 16 after losing to Algeria, forcing the NFF to search for a new coach, thus the appointment of the Portuguese.
The NFF made it clear that the head coach must get the team to the semifinal target at the 2023 AFCON tournament in Ivory Coast. Peseiro has already secured qualification to the continental showpiece, which starts in January. The major task is to secure World Cup qualification, which is "non-negotiable" for Nigerian fans.
Jose Peseiro's result for Nigeria so far
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Since his appointment as the Super Eagles coach, the former FC Porto has guided the team to 6 wins in 12 matches, with 1 draw and 5 losses.
His team has faced criticism from fans following unimpressive performances at home, including a 1-0 loss to Guinea Bissau in Abuja.
Nigerians are not convinced of his tactics and capacity to lead the national team back to its glory days. Jose Peseiro’s reign, as short as it has been so far, has seen the Super Eagles come under a very bad patch, littered with poor results and indifferent displays, Vanguard said in an earlier report.
Are the Super Eagles prepared for the World Cup qualifiers
There will be no more excuses now as the World Cup qualifiers begin. Drawn in the same group with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Nigeria must get it right from their game against Lesotho in Uyo.
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With the array of stars in the squad, Peseiro will have to ensure this count when he selects his starting lineup against the Crocodiles.
Napoli of Italy striker Victor Osimhen, AC Milan's Samuel Chukwueze and team captain Ahmed Musa have been left out of the November matches due to injuries.
However, Victor Boniface, Sadiq Umar and Taiwo Awoniyi are all in great form ahead of the encounter.
Standing in-captain Kenneth Omeruo told Sports Brief that the players are battle-ready and all the team needs now is support from fans.
"We will do our best in this game, the fans should give us their support tomorrow."
Anything short of victory against Lesotho will put the tactician's job on the line even though the AFCON tournament is less than two months away.
The Super Eagles will take on the Warriors of Zimbabwe on Match Day 2 at the 20,000-capacity Huye Stadium, located in the city of Butare, which is 135 kilometres south of the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
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Zimbabwe has adopted Rwanda as home for the qualifiers as no stadium in the southern African nation has been deemed fit to host the FIFA World Cup qualifying games.
Peter Ijeh encourages Super Eagles ahead of World Cup qualifiers
Earlier, Sports Brief reported that former Nigerian international Peter Ijeh has urged the Super Eagles to begin the 2026 FIFA World qualifiers on a flying note as they take on Lesotho on Thursday, November 16.
Nigeria host the Crocodiles at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium as they begin their quest for qualification to the global showpiece.
Jose Peseiro's side have converged in Uyo ahead of the showdown against Lesotho as they also have a date with Zimbabwe four days later.