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AFCON 2025 Qualifiers: Nigerian fans express worry as Super Eagles draw Benin Republic

The battle of optimism and pessimism is on between Nigeria and Benin Republic after both countries were drawn in the same group for the 2025 AFCON qualifiers on Thursday in South Africa, Punch Sports Extra reports.

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Fresh from beating Nigeria 2-1 in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June, the Cheetahs and the Super Eagles are drawn in Group D of the series, which also has Libya and Rwanda, another team in Nigeria’s current 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying group.

Next year’s AFCON will be held from December 21, 2025 to January 18, 2026 following the decision of CAF to adjust the schedule of the tournament due to the congested FIFA calendar.

The six-match qualifying series has been spread over the FIFA windows in September, October and November, with two matches in each seven-day window. The comprehensive fixtures are expected to be released by CAF soon.

The Eagles’ 2-1 defeat in the hands of Benin Republic, who are managed by former Nigeria coach Genort Rohr was the last assignment the Eagles embarked on.

It proved to be a damaging blow for the Eagles’ World Cup chances, leaving them with three points from four games and fifth in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers. Coupled with another bad result in the last window, Finidi George also resigned as Eagles coach, and the Nigeria Football Federation are still hunting for a foreign technical adviser to replace the new Rivers United coach.

Rwanda on the other hand are currently top of Nigeria’s group in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers with seven points, same as South Africa and Benin. Nigeria and Rwanda are yet to meet on the road to the USA, Canada and Mexico 2026 but will meet over two legs in the 2025 AFCON before the end of the year.

The defeat against Benin and the vacant Eagles coaching role has left Nigerians worried about the team’s chances.

“Finidi George resigned almost a month ago, he’s picked up a new job, we know our opponents in the 2025 AFCON qualifiers and there’s still no word from the NFF on the vacant coaching position of the Super Eagles,” ACL Sports writer Samuel Areo said.

“Let me guess, we will be beaten by Benin and be doing calculations for Libya to do us a favour and beat Rwanda for us to qualify,” Christian Omorogie reacted on X.

Another fan, Adewale Damilare, said, “Before now, we should have believed that it would be a walkover for our boys but losing to every country lately is disturbing.”

“The journey starts in September and we don’t have a head coach yet. Is it until a month to the matches before they appoint someone,” Adegbite Ismaila queried.

Buoyed by their recent victory over Nigeria, the Benin Football Federation also described the group as competitive.

“The Cheetahs of Benin are in Group D for the qualifiers of the CAN Morocco 2025. They will face Nigeria, Libya and Rwanda. This is a competitive group where each match will be crucial for qualifying to the final stage,” the Benin Football Association posted after the draw, fuelling some confident reactions from their fans.

“Nigeria and Rwanda, what sins have you committed? Sincerely, it’s time for Benin to stamp themselves and come out first in the group for the AFCON. I believe in what I’m saying,” a Beninese fan, Dieu Donné Sodjinou, wrote on Facebook.

Another fan Iskandarou Moussa classified Nigeria as a team that shouldn’t be underestimated.

“What pact did we sign with Nigeria to meet them in every round? We are in a tough group, let’s get to work and stop underestimating a team. Good luck to us.”

“I think Benin should prepare seriously to face Rwanda and Nigeria because they are two nations that we could win fairly and they will be waiting for us to revenge. So, Benin better prepare to avoid humiliation,” Joseph Dossou also wrote.

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