Benin vs Nigeria: Former Super Eagles Coach Confident of World Cup Qualification Despite Defeat

Benin vs Nigeria: Former Super Eagles Coach Confident of World Cup Qualification Despite Defeat

Edwin Kiplagat
June 11, 2024 at 7:20 AM
In this article:
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Super Eagles
South Africa
  • Nigeria's wait for their first win in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers continues after their surprise defeat to Benin on Monday
  • The Super Eagles are now fifth in Group C with three points from four games and are behind Benin, Lesotho, Rwanda, and South Africa
  • Former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, is optimistic his country can still reach the 2026 World Cup in North America

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Nigeria's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifications suffered a major blow following their defeat to Benin on Monday, June 10.

The Super Eagles went into the match without a win in their first three matches and were favourites to win, but their former coach, Gernot Rohr, had other plans.

Former Nigeria coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, believes Finidi George's team can still reach their first World Cup since 2018.

Nigeria, Benin, Gernot Rohr, Wilfred Ndidi, World Cup, AFCON, Finidi George.
Nigeria's Wilfred Ndidi and Benin's David Kiki fight for the ball at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan. Photo by Issouf Sanogo.
Source: Getty Images

Nigeria controlled the game early on, with Benin defending deep and waiting for opportunities on the break.

The three-time African champions broke the deadlock in the 27th minute through midfielder Raphael Onyedika. Samuel Chukwueze found him with a good pass before the Club Brugge star scored a beautiful goal.

Super Eagles' excitement was shortlived as the Cheetahs equalized 10 minutes later through Jodel Dossou. Benin took the lead just before half-time through Steve Mounie.

Nigeria attempted to come back in the second half, but Rohr, the former Nigeria boss, handed Finidi his first competitive defeat.

After four matches, Nigeria are fifth in their group, with three points from four games. Benin, Lesotho, Rwanda, and South Africa occupy the first four spots, per FIFA. The Super Eagles have six matches to go, and if they win all, they have a chance of playing at the World Cup.

Onigbinde on Nigeria's defeat to Benin

Nigeria missed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after losing the playoffs to arch-rivals Ghana. Onigbinde is not panicking yet but was upset about their defeat to Benin in Abidjan, per Complete Sports.

“It is still very possible for the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2026 World Cup. Everything now depends on how we work our way out of this tight corner."
“But then, I can’t still believe that we lost to Benin 2-1. It’s a game we should have won to brighten our chances in the group.
“Notwithstanding, I am still very optimistic that Nigeria will qualify for the 2026 World Cup.”

Finidi was criticized for the result, and he will have to wait until March 2025 to play another World Cup qualifier. Will he be the coach by then?

Finidi on Nigeria's defeat to Benin

Sports Brief earlier reported on Finidi urging Nigeria not to give up just yet despite having three points.

The 1994 winner appeared to question the commitment of his players after the frustrating defeat.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.