Permutations, calculations and 3 key things Finidi George and Super Eagles need to qualify for 2026 World Cup

A distraught Ademola Lookman was caged for 180 minutes. || Image credit: Imago


A distraught Ademola Lookman || Image credit: Imago

Permutations, calculations and 3 key things Finidi George and Super Eagles need to qualify for 2026 World Cup

Ayoola Kelechi 23:51 - 10.06.2024

Nigeria's hopes of reaching the 2026 FIFA World Cup dangle by a thread, but while it remains difficult, it is still possible to see the Super Eagles on the plane to the Americas

Nigeria's Super Eagles fell to their first defeat of the 2026 CAF World Cup qualifiers against Benin Republic, which alongside other poor results in the group so far have left their chances of finishing in the automatic qualification spot hanging by a balance.

The Super Eagles are winless in four games and find themselves four points behind Benin Republic, who currently top the group with seven points from four matches.

While many have given up on Finidi George’s boys finding a way to qualify for the World Cup, there is still time to pull the chestnut from the fire, but there are three things that must happen for Nigeria to qualify for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Mexico, and Canada.

Win all remaining matches

It goes without saying that Nigeria’s Super Eagles have little margin for error left. After three points from four games, the Super Eagles are condemned to win as many of the six remaining fixtures as possible.

Nigeria will still face South Africa, the Benin Republic, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho in second-leg fixtures, while they also have home and away fixtures against Rwanda.

All six matches are now essentially finals for Nigeria and victory is non-negotiable, otherwise, the Super Eagles can kiss their dream of playing in the 2026 World Cup goodbye.

Benin dramatically lose home form

No team in Group C has claimed a win away from home so far, with most teams baning on home form to help them throughout the qualifiers.

However, Benin Republic have taken this thought process to the maximum, claiming the most points at home in qualifying so far.

Benin Republic have claimed a perfect six points from six in their two home games so far, and with three further home games against South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho still to come. If they continue their perfect run at home, they will most likely remain at the top of the standings, especially if they defeat The Crocodiles and Bafana Bafana, who are direct rivals.

A ton of draws

Nigeria’s current position in the group means that they can not afford to have any team, even Zimbabwe, running away with back-to-back victories.

As such, the Super Eagles will hope for as many draws as possible in the group, especially in matches involving the Benin Republic, Lesotho, South Africa, and Rwanda.

With only four rounds of qualifiers so far, there are still eight more match days for other teams to potentially drop points in draws, and with South Africa and Lesotho playing each other twice, those games could be pivotal for the destiny of the group.

For the Super Eagles to make up ground in the group, as few points as possible should be won in those math, meaning the best outcome for Nigeria would be for most of those fixtures to end in draws.