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FIFA WC 2026 QUALIFIERS: Minnows Lesotho go top as Nigeria falters against South Africa

Football lightweights Lesotho stole the World Cup qualifying show in Africa on Friday, topping the table in a group including powerhouses South Africa and Nigeria.

Lesotho, ranked 149th in the world, upset Zimbabwe 2-0 in Soweto to lead Group C, and remained there after Nigeria and South Africa drew 1-1 in Uyo six hours later.

In other groups, shock 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco defeated Zambia 2-1 in Agadir and African champions the Ivory Coast edged Gabon 1-0 in Korhogo.

The victories kept Morocco and the Ivory Coast top of their mini-leagues with 100 percent records after matchday three.

Rethabile Rasethuntsa and Jane Thaba-Ntso scored in a 10-minute spell during the first half to give Lesotho their first group win after draws with Nigeria and Benin last November.

After Themba Zwane struck the woodwork from a free-kick, he put South Africa ahead on 29 minutes in Nigeria with a superb solo goal.

Nigeria levelled in the first minute of the second half when Fisayo Dele-Bashiru held off Mothobi Mvala and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

The match was a repeat of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final in the Ivory Coast, which also ended 1-1 before Nigeria won on penalties.

Lesotho have five points, Rwanda, Benin and South Africa four each, Nigeria three and Zimbabwe two.

Hakim Ziyech and Eliesse Ben Seghir scored to put Group E leaders Morocco in control before Edward Chilufya netted 10 minutes from time for second-placed Zambia.

Seko Fofana scored after 36 minutes as the Ivory Coast climbed to nine points, three more than Gabon. Kenya lie third with four after conceding a late goal to draw 1-1 with Burundi.

The perfect record of the Comoros in Group I ended when they fell 2-1 to fellow Indian Ocean islanders Madagascar in the night-time cold of Johannesburg.

FIFA World Cup (Africa) qualifiers matchday 3 results

Report courtesy: AFP

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