Football stakeholders are in no buoyant mood but quietly confident of the Super Eagles’ qualification for the 2026 World Cup, after the three-time African champions were drawn in a tricky Group C of the African qualifiers on Thursday, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

The draw ceremony for the 2026 World Cup African qualifiers was conducted in Abidjan, Ivory Coast after the Confederation of African Football’s Ordinary General Assembly on Thursday.

The Eagles are in Group C alongside South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, Benin Republic, led by former Eagles coach Gernot Rohr, Rwanda, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

It will be the third time the Eagles will be drawn in the same World Cup qualification group along with the Bafana Bafana.

During the 2010 World Cup second round qualifiers, the Eagles were drawn alongside South Africa, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea in Group 4 and they defeated the South Africans in both legs 2-0 in Abuja and 1-0 at the Telkom Park, Port Elizabeth.

Both teams were also pitted together in the first round of the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

The Eagles also faced Rwanda and Zimbabwe during the 2006 World Cup qualification. The Nigerians defeated the Amavubi 2-0 in Abuja thanks to a brace from Obafemi Martins, but were held 1-1 in Kigali.

In the same group, the Eagles also outclassed Zimbabwe’s Warriors over two legs. A 3-0 win in Harare on match day two, courtesy of goals from Julius Aghahowa, Joseph Enakarhire and a penalty from Yakubu Aiyegbeni in the first leg, was followed by another 5-1 mauling in Abuja.

Following the Eagles failure to qualify for the last edition in Qatar, Nigerians have taken to social media to express their reservations over the draw.

TV host, Edafe EseOghene, wrote on Twitter, “This would be the toughest qualifiers ever, and chances are that the Eagles might not qualify from this group.

“Gernot Rohr is the coach of Benin, he would rather die than lose. South Africa would conspire well with their neighbors Zimbabwe and Lesotho. I smell danger ahead.”

Journalist Nurudeen Obalola wrote, “South Africa could be tricky but the NFF and the Eagles have no excuses not to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, with Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho in their group. No stories this time.”

Another journalist Wole Opatola added, “The Eagles must be wary of Bafana Bafana in the latest World Cup groupings. South Africa can negotiate with Zimbabwe and Lesotho, we can’t do likewise with Benin, their coach is Gernort Rohr.”

@Babatun1Fasanya says the Eagles must not be complacent.

“Nigeria should not go to sleep and be conceited that the Eagles will have it easy in the 2026 World cup qualifiers, South Africa, Benin Republic, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho games should be treated with maximum concentration, it’s the players that has so much to lose, not the fans.”

Uwa Mgbede Kam Mma wrote via his handle, @kaskomalima, “My money is on South Africa to top the group. Super Eagles won’t have it easy.”

@IItaloye added, “It is a very good group for the Super Eagles. I don’t see South Africa stopping us if the players, NFF and the coaches do the right thing.”

@Robert_DMaverik also warned that the Eagles must be careful with their former coach Gernot Rohr, who is in charge of Benin Republic.

“Super Eagles needs to be careful and must up the ante against these teams. Rohr will love to claim Nigeria’s scalp.”

@KumolaloF also said, “I pray the Super Eagles win their games, lead the group and just qualify. Coming 2nd and doing some playoff is not it. I don’t want to suffer any anxiety or high blood pressure issues.”

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