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2026 WCQ: Surprise! as Lesotho go top of Group C, Super Eagles drop to 5th after matchday 3

Relatively unknown footballing nation of Lesotho are surprisingly topping group C  after match day 3 in the ongoing 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying series in Africa.

It would be recalled that Nigeria and South Africa picked up a point each in their much-publicised clash in Uyo on Friday, to leave less-fancied Lesotho perched on top of Group C of the 2026 FIFA World Cup African qualification series.

AFCON bronze medallist South Africa drew the first blood after 29 minutes, when Themba Zwane waltzed his way past the Nigerian defence and was left unchallenged to fire past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali from close range.

Before then, Paul Onuachu had headed over from close range a cross by the nifty Ademola Lookman in the third minute, and five minutes later, Alex Iwobi shot too high when presented with an opportunity to rattle goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

At the other end, Nwabali got the capacity crowd cheering with a double save from Zwane and Iqraam Rayners in the 10th minute. Seven minutes later, Teboho Mokoena saw the ball kiss the croosbar from his sharp delivery off a 20-yard free-kick.

After Zwane’s goal, it was Bafana all the way, and Benjamin Tanimu had to be diligent to avoid an own goal as Percy Tau and Zwane caught the Nigerian rearguard napping again.

Nigeria restored parity with only a minute into the second half, when Alex Iwobi fed Fisayo Dele-Bashiru in the box, and the Turkey-based midfielder turned brilliantly to lash past Ronwen Williams.

Nigeria dominated afterwards, with substitute Samuel Chukwueze hitting the underside of the bar in a flowing move, Lookman shooting away from goal with three minutes left, and the Europa Cup final hero drawing a full-length save from Williams in added time.

The draw means Lesotho, who defeated Zimbabwe 2-0 earlier on Friday, remain top of the group with five points, while South Africa, Benin Republic and Rwanda are on four points, with Nigeria on three.

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