Zimbabwe and Nigeria are set to clash in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers at Huye Stadium on Sunday, both eager to clinch their first win in the tournament.
The Super Eagles, boasting an undefeated streak of six encounters against the Warriors, aim to maintain their dominance and launch a successful qualifying campaign.
Zimbabwe embarked on their 2026 World Cup journey with a commendable showing, securing a goalless draw against Rwanda at Huye Stadium. This followed their notable 2-1 victory over Guinea in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. Subsequently, they engaged in a friendly match in September, ending in a 1-1 draw against Botswana.
Ranked 125th in the FIFA World Rankings, Zimbabwe has faced challenges, failing to secure victories in 14 out of their last 15 matches. In the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, they concluded at the bottom of Group G, accumulating only two points from six matches.
Nigeria encountered disappointment in their Group C opener, settling for a 1-1 draw against Lesotho. However, they had previously enjoyed three consecutive wins in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. In the last six games, Nigeria remained undefeated, boasting four wins and two draws since March 2023.
Absent from the 2022 World Cup, Nigeria aspires to make a strong comeback. Despite the draw against Lesotho, they have displayed resilience and are determined to secure their first World Cup appearance since 2018.
Zimbabwe faces uncertainty as Admiral Muskwe is a major doubt due to injury sustained against Rwanda. Terrence Dzvukamanja may replace him in the starting XI. In midfield, Marvelous Nakamba is expected to feature, supported by a consistent back three of Takwara, Hadebe, and Lunga.
Nigeria is poised to maintain a similar XI, with Victor Boniface and Taiwo Awoniyi leading the attack in Victor Osimhen’s absence. Frank Onyeka and Alex Iwobi are anticipated in midfield, while Ajayi and Bassey form the center-back pairing.
Possible Starting Lineups:
Zimbabwe: Bernard; Takwara, Hadebe, Lunga; Mbeba, Munetsi, Nakamba, Band, Musona; Dube, Dzvukamanja
Nigeria: Uzoho; Osayi-Samuel, Ajayi, Bassey, Collins; Onyeka, Iwobi, Iheanacho, Lookman; Boniface, Awoniyi
Nigeria is favored to secure a 2-0 victory against Zimbabwe, highlighting their experience and superior squad.