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


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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