Super Eagles focused on World Cup qualification after slow start, says Iheanacho

Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has assured fans that the Super Eagles are fully prepared and determined to secure qualification for the 2026 World Cup. This comes after a shaky start to the qualifying campaign where they drew against both Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

“Everyone is prepared,” Iheanacho said. “The feeling in camp is actually amazing because everyone is back together now, the team is complete so I think the feeling is in one direction, we know what to do so it's just how we approach the game and see what comes out of it.”

The importance of World Cup qualification wasn't lost on the Leicester City forward. “Obviously, Super Eagles know what it means to qualify for the World Cup, it's not an easy task but I think right now, we are ready to qualify again,” he declared.

Super Eagles forward Kelechi Iheanacho
Photo by Icon Sport

Looking back at the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Iheanacho believes the team needs to maintain the high standards they set there. “I think in terms of the expectations, I think we have set the standard now at the AFCON, we just need to keep the standard,” he said. “All we need from Nigerians is just the support that they have been giving us.”

Nigeria's qualification hopes took a hit with those opening draws, and they desperately need a win against South Africa on Friday to get back on track. The fixture promises to be exciting, as the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the AFCON semifinals earlier this year, with the Super Eagles ultimately prevailing on penalties.

While their recent form hasn't been ideal, Nigeria boasts a strong historical record against South Africa. In 15 meetings between the two sides, Nigeria have emerged victorious eight times, with five draws and only two losses. This head-to-head advantage will be a source of confidence for the Super Eagles as they approach this crucial World Cup qualifier.

This will be the 16th meeting between Nigeria and South Africa. 

The first Nigeria vs South Africa clash took place in October 1992, while their most recent encounter was at the AFCON earlier this year. Nigeria emerged victorious the last two times these teams met.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.