• Can Nigeria Qualify for World Cup 2026?

    Can nigeria qualify for world cup 2026 - nigeria newspapers online
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    Figure 1 Nigeria failed to qualify for the last World Cup

    It is a period of uncertainty for the Super Eagles, it seems. The most recent international break has just finished and there are still a lot of questions for Nigeria, most notably, whether or not it can qualify for the 2026 World Cup taking place in the US, Mexico, and Canada in a few years’ time.

    Nigeria has always been one of the major African nations when it comes to all sports, especially football, and it would be nothing short of a disaster if the Super Eagles were not to qualify. But with such upheaval currently in the national team set-up, it is not surprising that many of the California sportsbooks seem to be unsure of what will happen.

    There is still a long time to go – and a lot of qualifying games still to be played – before we discover the World Cup fate of the Super Eagles. But with the next international break providing Nigeria with two important group games, can the fans be confident of another finals appearance?

    New Coach

    It is a little difficult to confidently predict anything about the national side when we still don’t know who the head coach will be for the remainder of the campaign. Jose Peseiro stepped down after the most recent AFCON at the end of his contract, as expected, and there is still a lot of speculation about who will take over.

    Super Eagles legend Finidi George took over as caretaker manager for the last two games. But it is not expected that he will be given the role permanently. Former Manchester City assistant coach Domenec Torrent has emerged as a frontrunner, while ex-Cameroon boost Toni Conceição is also rumored to be in with a chance. Both men come equipped with a lot of top-level experience and could be just what Nigeria needs.

    Recent Results

    Although the most recent international break only saw Nigeria play two friendly games, they can still tell us a little about how the extended squad is doing after AFCON. That’s because some of the first-choice players were given an international break of their own, with Finidi George running his eye over some less-experienced players.

    Both games took place on neutral territory – in Marrakech, Morocco – but there was still a lot of West African pride at stake. A good 2-1 win over old rivals Ghana started the break off well, before a more disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mali. Overall, it has to be considered a positive break, but without a newfound dominance that some fans may have been eager to see.

    AFCON Form

    That anticipation from the fans would have been partly because of the performance of the Super Eagles at AFCON in the Ivory Coast at the beginning of the year. There is always a lot of expectation surrounding Nigeria at these kinds of tournaments but a runners-up spot should be considered an achievement.

    As much as it was extremely disappointing to ultimately lose the final to the hosts in the end, there was a lot to be excited about as the competition went on. After the draw with Equatorial Guinea to start things off, there were some good wins before the penalty shoot-out victory over South Africa in the semifinal. Peseiro had been expected to get Nigeria to at least the last four, so a place in the final has to be looked at as a job well done.

    Next International Break

    After the relative laid-back approach to the two friendlies in March. Nigeria will now be gearing up for a couple of far more important fixtures in June. It is back to World Cup qualifying, starting off with what could be a crucial home game against South Africa. Bafana Bafana will be out for revenge for that AFCON semifinal defeat and also need to get their qualifying campaign going as well.

    South Africa drew against Andorra and Algeria in March in the all-new FIFA Series and will be looking to get something from the trip to Nigeria. After that comes an away trip to Benin for the Super Eagles. The Cheetahs recorded some creditable results against Ivory Coast and Senegal in two friendlies recently and may well pose a sterner test than their current bottom place in the group suggests.

    Qualifying Group

    After those two World Cup qualifying games in June, there is then another long break until the campaign gets going again. Match days five and six are not until March 2025 and a lot may have changed by then. But, even with just one automatic World Cup berth available for the winners, this is a group that Nigeria will be expecting to come out on top of.

    Rwanda may have started the campaign well but it is a historically much weaker team than the Super Eagles. Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Benin should all be there for the taking too, leaving South Africa as the main threat for that number one spot. There is also a chance to qualify via a playoff for the best runners-up teams as well – but those are extra games that Nigeria shouldn’t need and won’t want to play.

    World Cup Super Eagles History

    Since Nigeria first qualified for a World Cup finals in 1994, the Super Eagles have only ever missed out on two tournaments. Unfortunately, one of those was the most recent one in Qatar, making qualifying for World Cup 2026 a must for whoever becomes the new head coach.

    Once there, the next job will be making it past the round of 16 for the first time. But every player and coach’s priority should now just be making sure that Nigeria makes it to North America in the first place. Even with all the current uncertainty surrounding the squad and coaching staff, qualification is still well within Nigeria’s grasp.

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