World Cup 2026 qualifiers: Mohamed Salah hits four for Egypt, Nigeria held at home by Lesotho

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Mohamed Salah hit four goals as Egypt cruised to victory in their first qualifier for the 2026 Fifa World Cup but Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw at home by minnows Lesotho. Motlomelo Mkwanazi gave Lesotho, ranked 153rd in the world – 113 places below Nigeria – a shock lead with a 56th-minute goal from a corner.

West Brom centre-back Semi Ajayi powerfully headed in Kelechi Iheanacho’s corner to level 11 minutes later but the Super Eagles could not find a winner in their Group C opener in a rainy Uyo. Jose Peseiro’s side had dominated the first half but paid for their profligacy as Iheanacho saw a free-kick saved, Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi failed to capitalise on a promising cut-back and Ademola Lookman had a low shot across goal turned away.

Liverpool forward Salah starred as Egypt thrashed Djibouti 6-0 in Cairo while elsewhere there were wins for Algeria, Mozambique, Burundi and Gabon. Africa has a guaranteed nine qualifiers for the 2026 finals in Canada, Mexico and the United States, with all group winners booking a spot at the tournament.

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