Rohr’s Benin clip Super Eagles wings as 2024 World Cup hopes come crashing down

Nigeria's Super Eagles remain winless in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers following their disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Benin at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Monday evening.

The Super Eagles had hoped to make amends for their 1-1 draw against South Africa last Friday but have now extended their winless run in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers to four matches.

Finidi George’s side made the best possible start to the game against Benin when Raphael Onyedika put them in front in the 27th minute after being set up by Samuel Chukwueze. However, Nigeria dropped off after the opening goal and were duly punished for it.

The hosts levelled the score in the 37th minute when Jodel Dossou took advantage of a mistake by Calvin Bassey to slot the ball past the onrushing Stanley Nwabali. Benin went ahead for the first time in the game late in the first half, with Steve Mounie also pouncing on poor defending in the Nigeria box to tap the ball home.

Benin vs Nigeria: How it happened

Finidi made three changes to the side that drew with South Africa, with the injured Fisayo Dele-Bashiru replaced by Raphael Onyedika. Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu also saw their places in the starting line-up taken by Samuel Chukwueze and Terem Moffi, respectively, but Victor Boniface was once again left on the bench.

The Super Eagles coach, however, maintained his back five of Nwabali, Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Benjamin Tanimu and Bright Osayi Samuel. Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi also started for the second successive game, alongside the in-form Ademola Lookman.

Nigeria’s superior quality was evident in the opening exchanges as they enjoyed the larger share of possession but found clear-cut chances hard to come by. The Super Eagles’ first threatening effort came in the 12th minute when Osayi-Samuel’s curling effort nearly found the back of the net.

Benin, however, nearly scored against the run of play in the 25th minute but Nwabali produced a great save, although the striker’s effort wouldn’t have counted anyway as Junior Olaitan was in an offside position.

Super Eagles lose to Benin
Photo by Icon Sport

A minute later, though, Nigeria would finally break the deadlock from an Onyedika scorcher. The Club Brugge midfielder controlled a cutback from Chukwueze and let fly a shot that looped into the far corner.

Nigeria failed to capitalise on their opening goal, however, with Benin seizing the initiative after falling behind. The cheetahs went close a couple of times via efforts from Olaitan and Mounie before Jodel Dossu finally equalised eight minutes from half-time after pouncing on a mistake by Bassey to score.

Gernot Rohr’s side went 2-1 up late in the first half, this time Mounie arriving at the back post to score from close range after Nigeria failed to clear the ball from a corner kick. In a desperate attempt to get back into the game, Finidi introduced Boniface and Onuachu in the second half but both attackers added very little as Nigeria succumbed to their first defeat in the World Cup qualifiers.

Winless Super Eagles occupy 5th position Group C

Meanwhile, Benin’s win against Nigeria has seen the Cheetah’s move to the top of Group C of the CAF World Cup qualifiers with seven points.

The Super Eagles are, however, currently in fifth position, just a point above bottom-placed Zimbabwe, who would overtake Finidi’s side if they get a favourable result against South Africa on Tuesday.

Nigeria also risk falling further behind rivals Bafana Bafana and Rwanda if both win their next matches against Zimbabwe and Lesotho, respectively.

Rohr’s Benin clip Super Eagles wings as 2024 World Cup hopes come crashing down
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.