Nigeria’s World Cup Hope Dims With Loss To Benin.

By: Gyang Dakwo

Nigeria are increasingly in danger of missing out on the 2026 World Cup after they fell to a surprise defeat against Benin in qualifying.

The Super Eagles went into the match having drawn all three of their opening qualifiers, but things got even worse as they were beaten 2-1 on Monday evening.

It had been a positive start, with Raphael Onyedika giving Nigeria the lead inside the opening half hour with a lovely finish from the edge of the area, only for a disastrous spell before half-time to turn the match around.

Jodel Dossou equalised for Benin, capitalising on a mix-up at the back and fomer Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie scored in first-half stoppage time after he was left unmarked from a corner.

Nigeria could not respond after the break, as their former boss Gernot Rohr, now in charge of Benin, enjoyed a successful reunion.

The defeat leaves Nigeria fifth in their six-team group, with just three points from their first four games. Benin lead the way in Group C with seven points, but Lesotho have a game in hand and could overtake them.

Only the team finishing in top spot will be guaranteed a place at the World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico, with the four best runners-up having the chance to qualify through a play-off.

Nigeria must now produce a much-improved run in their final six qualifying matches, with a lengthy break now until their campaign resumes against Rwanda in March next year. The Super Eagles then host Zimbabwe a week later, before fixtures against Rwanda, South Africa, Lesotho and Benin later in 2025.