Nigeria fall to shock defeat against Benin as Super Eagles suffer further blow to 2026 World Cup hopes

Former Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr led Benin to victory (AFP via Getty Images)
Former Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr led Benin to victory (AFP via Getty Images)

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 an 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 calamitous mix-up at the back from the Super Eagles, before former 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.