- Nigeria's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign got off to an unexpectedly rocky start as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Lesotho in Uyo.
Despite being overwhelming favourites, the Super Eagles failed to secure a victory, with West Brom's Semi Ajayi salvaging a late equalizer after Motlomelo Mkhwanazi had given the Crocodiles the lead.
Head coach, Jose Peseiro's attack-oriented lineup, spearheaded by Taiwo Awoniyi, aimed for early dominance. The Super Eagles pressed forward, with Awoniyi testing the waters in the opening minutes, but Lesotho's defence held firm.
In the 34th minute, Nigeria's efforts intensified as Kelechi Iheanacho forced Lesotho's goalkeeper into action with a well-struck free-kick.
Despite sustained pressure, Awoniyi squandered a golden opportunity to put Nigeria ahead, slicing wide after a promising build-up involving Victor Boniface.
As the first half concluded, Lookman's attempt at goal was thwarted, leaving both teams deadlocked at halftime.
The second half witnessed an unexpected turn as Lesotho broke the deadlock in the 55th minute. Motlomelo Mkhwanazi capitalized on a rare shot on target, beating goalkeeper Uzoho.
Nigeria responded emphatically in the 67th minute, as Semi Ajayi rose to the occasion, heading home a precise Iheanacho corner kick to level the score.
Despite a late surge towards Lesotho's goal, Nigeria fell short of clinching a victory, settling for a disappointing 1-1 draw in their opening World Cup qualifier.
The Eagles will head to Rwanda next, where they will face Zimbabwe on matchday two of the campaign.