2026 World Cup qualifier: Five observations from Super Eagles 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe

Published: November 19, 2023
2026 World Cup qualifier: Five observations from Super Eagles 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe

The November international window concluded for the Super Eagles of Nigeria without a win as they secured two draws against Zimbabwe and Lesotho in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.


On Sunday, Nigeria was held to a 1-1 draw at the Huye Stadium in Rwanda. Walter Musona opened the scoring for the hosts in the 26th minute, and Kelechi Iheanacho restored parity for the visitors at minute 67.


Allnigeriasoccer.com presents five observations from the game


1. Uzoho beaten by another set piece.


The Super Eagles goalkeeper remains in the spotlight due to his performances, having conceded from set pieces in three out of the last six games. 


Uzoho conceded goals from set pieces in matches against Saudi Arabia, Mozambique, and Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium. 


Additionally, the Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper was also bested from a set piece by Walter Musona in the 26th minute.


2. Kelechi Iheanacho scores on his 50th cap 


The striker from Leicester City began the match as a substitute but entered the fray for the start of the second half.


Following his introduction, Iheanacho made a significant impact on the game by scoring his 15th goal for the country on his 50th cap milestone to equalize for Nigeria after they went behind in the first half.


3. Poor playing surface 


The Huye Stadium in Butare, Rwanda served as the venue for the match between Nigeria and Zimbabwe, as Zimbabwe was unable to present a satisfactory pitch to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).


Nevertheless, concerns were raised about the Huye Stadium's quality, impacting the Nigerian players' ability to execute successful passes among themselves. 


The unfavorable pitch conditions posed challenges for Nigeria in creating scoring opportunities and were deemed unsuitable for top-quality football.


4. Nigeria again struggle against teams fielding a low-block 


Once again, Nigeria faced challenges in generating scoring opportunities against a defensively organized low-block side. 


Zimbabwe exhibited strong defensive organization on Sunday, making it tough for Nigeria to create chances, particularly in the second half.


Despite securing an equalizer through a well-executed team movement, the Super Eagles continued to struggle in creating opportunities and did not pose a threat to their opponent.


Nigeria managed only one shot on target, which resulted in the equalizing goal, and three shots off-target throughout the game.


The Eagles, throughout the entirety of the match, were only able to force the opposing goalkeeper to make one save.


5. Poor tactics from Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro 


In response to the disappointing draw against Lesotho last Thursday, Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro implemented significant changes to the starting lineup.


Key players such as Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface, and Ademola Lookman were relegated to the bench, a decision that did not yield positive results. 


In the first half, Nigeria displayed a lack of cohesion, intensity, and coordination among the players, which was expected given the substantial lineup changes.


During the second half, the Portuguese manager rectified the situation by introducing Kelechi Iheanacho, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Victor Boniface. 


This substitution altered the rhythm of the game in Nigeria's favour, with Iheanacho capitalizing on a layoff from Moses Simon to equalize.




Adeyemi Adewale




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