2026 WCQ: Finidi wants VAR in qualifiers as Eagles depart for Abidjan to face Benin on Monday

2026 WCQ: Finidi wants VAR in qualifiers as Eagles depart for Abidjan to face Benin on Monday



Super Eagles head coach, Finidi George was not happy the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was not available during his side’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against South Africa in Uyo on Friday.

The visitors held Bafana Bafana to a 1-1 draw in the keenly contested encounter.

The Super Eagles were denied a clear penalty when goal hero, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru was hacked down inside the box in the 53rd minute.

Substitute Samuel Chukwueze’s left-footed curling effort crashed against the crossbar, dropping down, with suggestions it may have crossed the goal line.

“I’m sure we all saw the Afcon in Cote d’Ivoire where the VAR was properly used”, Finidi said during his interaction with the media after the game.

“Even the Europeans were applauding the Afcon, you know. For me, I don’t know why in (World Cup qualifiers) like this, where everything counts we couldn’t have a play or incident properly checked to know if a goal is properly scored or not.

“Chukwueze’s cross which hit the (underneath of the) bar, from where I was standing, I don’t know whether it crossed the line, but if there’s VAR, we would have had the opportunity of having a better view. For me, I’m just a coach and cannot change the rules of FIFA”.

After failing to beat South Africa on Friday night in Uyo, the Super Eagles will fly out to Abidjan ahead of their Match-day 4 clash with the Cheetahs of  Benin Republic in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Monday evening.

That match will take place in the familiar surroundings of the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, where the Super Eagles won three matches at the Afcon earlier this year.

Interestingly, the Cheetahs of Benin Republic are being handled by former Super Eagles German coach, Gernot Rohr who got kicked out of the Nigerian job in controversial circumstances.

The Eagles' draw against Bafana means Lesotho, who defeated Zimbabwe 2-0 earlier on Friday, remain top of their Group C standings with five points, while South Africa, Benin Republic, and Rwanda are on four points, with Nigeria on three.

Anything short of a win for the Super Eagles will amount to Nigeria on the route to missing out on another Mundial, shortly after also failing to qualify for the last edition in Qatar in 2022.

It is the first time since 1960 that a Nigerian senior national team will be playing three World Cup qualifiers without a win.

Meanwhile, Finidi has praised Dele-Bashiru the scorer of Nigeria’s equaliser against South Africa.

“It was a great performance from him, that was why he played. People talk about changes but not about fielding a player. If he didn’t do well, I know that question will come back to me,’ why did he play?” Finidi told reporters after the game in Uyo.

Dele-Bashiru was replaced by Alhassan Yusuf in the 61st minute after sustaining an injury.

The Super Eagles gaffer however said Dele-Bashiru ‘s knock will be assessed today to know the extent of the injury ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Benin Republic in Abidjan.


Team.                  P.     W.   D.  L.   F.   A.  GD. PTS

Lesotho.               3.      1.     2.  0.   3.   1.      2.   5

Rwanda.               3.      1.     1.   1.   2.     1.     1    4

Benin.                   3.      1.     1.   1.     2.   2.     0.  4

S’Africa.               3.      1.     1.   1.     3.    4.  -1.   4

Nigeria.                3.     0.     3.   0.     3.   3.    0.   3

Zimbabwe.          3.     0.    2.   1.      1.    3.   -2.   2