On Thursday, Egypt opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a predicted victory against a minor nation called Djibouti. However, Lesotho kept Nigeria to a shocking home draw, bringing Mohamed Salah’s goal total for Egypt up to 50. On the same day, Nigeria was held to a tie by Lesotho.
Salah’s effort helped Egypt to a 6-0 victory in their opening Group A encounter, which took place in Cairo. The striker scored all six of Egypt’s goals during the match, bringing his overall record for Egypt to 53 goals in 93 games. Egypt is now searching for a spot in the 2026 championships after failing to qualify for the Qatar World Cup last year.
Despite playing without injured Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, Nigeria was held to a 1-1 draw by the little mountain nation of Lesotho, who are 113 places lower than Nigeria in the FIFA rankings. The match took place in the rainy city of Uyo.
After 56 minutes of play in the Group C match, Lesotho took an unexpected lead thanks to defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi. They maintained their information for the next 11 minutes when London-born center-back Semi Ajayi equalized for Nigeria by heading in a corner kick from Kelechi Iheanacho.
But despite putting a lot of pressure on the visitors’ goal for the remainder of the game, Nigeria could not develop a winning strategy. This outcome will put a lot of pressure on Nigeria’s head coach, Jose Peserio, whose team will compete in the Africa Cup of Nations finals in just two months.
Jonathan Muiomo, who now plays in the fourth tier of German club football, scored the game-winning goal in only his second appearance for Mozambique in their 3-2 victory against Botswana in Group G. This result gave Mozambique the first away victory of the African qualification campaign, which started this week.
Algeria is the favorite in that group, but their 3-1 home win against Somalia in Algiers was not convincing. Riyad Mahrez and Amine Gouiri were among their key players who were brought off at halftime as coach Djamel Belmadi attempted to freshen up a struggling side. Algeria won the match 3-1.
Denis Bouanga, the leading scorer in Major League Soccer this season, tied the game for Gabon just before the hour mark. Guelor Kanga scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to give Gabon a 2-1 victory over Kenya at Franceville.
Burundi also emerged victorious in Group F, defeating Gambia by a score of 3-2 in a match that had to be played in Tanzania due to Burundi’s lack of an adequate stadium.
Due to the ongoing civil conflict in Sudan, the Group B match against Togo was played in Benghazi, Libya, instead of in Sudan. Despite taking an early lead thanks to a penalty kick, Togo earned an equalizer through Kevin Denkey, who is based in Belgium. The match ended in a 1-1 tie.
The first two rounds of the African qualifications will be played from Wednesday to the following Tuesday, and then the competition will resume in June of next year.
The winner of each of the nine groups automatically advances to the finals in 2026, which will be held in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. However, the four teams that finished in second place will have an additional opportunity to advance through a playoff system with two levels.