The Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw on Thursday at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
Contrary to many Nigerian football fans’ expectations, the 151st-ranked Crocodiles scored first through Motlomelo Mkwanazi in the 56th minute before Semi Ajayi equalised for the home side in the 67th minute.
Despite an average 80 per cent ball possession, the Eagles contrived to miss gilt-edged chances to kick off their 2026 FIFA World Cup quest on a disappointing note
They travel to Rwanda on Sunday to face Zimbabwe.
Rwanda and Zimbabwe also played a draw on Wednesday while South Africa hosts Benin on Friday in Johannesburg.
Having recorded a resounding 6-0 victory the last time they played in Uyo, many were expecting another goal-laden performance from Coach Jose Peseiro’s men.
Relentless attack vs resolute defending
Despite a relentless barrage of attacks from Nigeria’s forwards, including stand-in captain Kelechi Iheanacho, Ademola Lookman, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Victor Boniface, Lesotho’s goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane and his resolute defence stood firm, thwarting every Nigerian attempt and leaving spectators at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium frustrated.
Nigeria’s defence had a shaky start, with Alex Iwobi’s uncharacteristic positioning in the box creating an opportunity for Lesotho’s Tsepang Seeali to fire point-blank at Francis Uzoho, who fortunately parried the shot.
Nigeria’s attacking efforts were equally futile, with Jamilu Collins’ close shot and Boniface’s header over the sticks being saved by the impressive Moerane.
The Lesotho captain also punched Iheanacho’s dipping free-kick away.
Awoniyi missed Nigeria’s best chance of the first half, dragging wide a pass from Boniface in the 36th minute.
Lookman also watched in disbelief as the Lesotho goalkeeper parried away his left-footed belter.
The second half saw Iwobi’s shot parried in the 52nd minute, followed three minutes later by Lesotho’s goal.
Uzoho failed to deal with the ball from a corner kick, allowing Motlomelo Mkwanazi to strike gold with a bullet header that sailed into the net.
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Nigeria responded positively, with Moerane saving from Collins and Iheanacho watching his shot return off the upright.
Semi Ajayi finally levelled the score for Nigeria with a powerful header from a corner kick by Iheanacho.
Despite promising free-kick opportunities, neither team could find a winner, resulting in a 1-1 stalemate.
Both teams took a point each from the encounter ahead of their Day 2 clashes this weekend.
Nigeria will travel to the city of Butare in Rwanda to face the Warriors of Zimbabwe at the Huye Stadium on Sunday
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