Zimbabwe 1-1 Nigeria: Super Eagles risk missing out on World Cup 2026

Zimbabwe 1-1 Nigeria: Super Eagles risk missing out on World Cup 2026
Credit: Icon Sport

Zimbabwe vs Nigeria ended in a 1-1 scoreline as the Super Eagles picked up their second draw of the November 2023 international break.

The three-time Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions did not look threatening in either half of the game against a Warriors side who had not participated in official competitions for 18 months prior to the November international break.

The Southern African team broke the deadlock with an incredible freekick, their first goal in almost two years, leaving the Super Eagles to chase after a result until Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho’s equaliser in the second half.

First half: Francis Uzoho beaten by spectacular effort as Super Eagles fail to threaten Warriors

The Zimbabwe Warriors, playing as hosts at the Huge Stadium in Rwanda, kept their word of making the match uncomfortable for the Nigeria Super Eagles.

José Peseiro gave Bayer 04 Leverkusen man Nathan Tella his first start alongside Moses Simon and Terem Moffi, who was replacing the injured Victor Osimhen in the starting lineup.

Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey held it down at centre back in front of the much-maligned Francis Uzoho, who kept his position in between the sticks.

The kickoff under the East African sun was not spectacular but Zimbabwe were quick to establish dominance as hosts. It was for naught, however, because fans at the stadium witnessed drab football from both sides for the first 20 minutes.

In the 26th minute, Zimbabwe would win a freekick that was more than 30 yards out at the edge of the box. With a little run up and backlift, Walter Musona smashed in a knuckleball over the wall and into the net of Uzoho.

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The 25-year-old was beaten by a fine strike but was poorly positioned and showed little effort in trying to stop the shot. The Omonia Nicosia man was caught slipping by Musona, who scored Zimbabwe’s first official goal in 18 months.

The rest of the game continued with both teams playing timid football and barely testing each other’s defences until the referee had enough and blew for halftime.

Second half: “Senior Man” Iheanacho scores his 15th Super Eagles goal

Peseiro's halftime talk must have not been jarring enough, or must have not been enough of a wake up call to a Super Eagles team who Nigerians are very disappointed in at the moment.

This is because the second half began as the first half did, with Zimbabwe dominating the game from the first blast of the whistle.

Both teams exchanged tame attacks, barely testing their goalkeepers and defences. Nigeria came alive for a 15-minute spell, however, which would result in an equaliser scored by Iheanacho.

“Senior man” was playing his 50th game as a Nigerian international when he scored his 15th goal after some fine work by captain Simon down the right wing. That goal in the 67th minute proved to be the only thing the Super Eagles could do in Rwanda against Zimbabwe, who returned to dominating the game.

The match’s intensity increased after the goal as both teams fought for a winner, but neither were able to break past the other's defence. In the end, Zimbabwe vs Nigeria would end in a third draw in seven matches played since 1981 to the chagrin of Nigerian fans and to the delight of Zimbabwean fans.

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

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