2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier: Eagles’ camp swells as organised labour suspends strike

The atmosphere around the camp of African vice champions Nigeria has livened up even more as five players who were initially stranded in two different parts of the country as a result of the nationwide strike were ferried into Uyo on Tuesday morning.

Defenders Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Calvin Bassey, alongside midfielder Frank Onyeka and forward Paul Onuachu landed at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo just after noon aboard a private jet arranged by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), and were driven to the team’s Ibom Hotel and Resorts to meet up with team mates in time for lunch.

The arrival of the quintet brought the tally of players in camp to 20, three days to the Day 3 qualifying battle with the Bafana Bafana at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the Akwa Ibom capital.

Nigeria and South Africa go toe-to-toe in a rematch of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations first semi-final, which the Super Eagles trumped 4-2 after penalty shootout at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.

Three-time African champions Nigeria, who have reached the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup on three occasions, missed out on the last houseparty in Qatar, and after a sluggish start to the qualifiers, need all three points on offer to be in strong contention for the only ticket from Group C as the campaign drags on.

Rwanda are surprise leaders of the pool after two matchdays, on four points, with South Africa on three and Nigeria on two.

The 10-match series will end in October next year, with winners of the nine groups qualifying automatically for the finals in Canada, USA and Mexico. The best four second-placed teams in all nine groups will contest a CAF Play-off Tournament, with the winner going ahead to contest a FIFA Play-off Tournament for another slot.