Zimbabwe failed to hang on to their one-goal advantage when they allowed the Super Eagles of Nigeria to cancel out a Walter Musona first half beauty to end their 2026 FIFA World Cup Group C African qualifier tied on 1-1 draw.
Musona put Baltemar Brito’s men ahead with a delicious set piece struck from range 26 minutes into a clash hosted by the Warriors in unfamiliar territory of Rwanda.
The Warriors were left with 22 minutes to produce a famous victory over the African football heavyweights, but they allowed Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho to score from a side footer after being given acres of space inside the box to pick his spot.
Zimbabwe opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a nil-all draw against Rwanda three days before.
Both teams made several changes to their starting lineups, with Brito bringing in Jordan Zemura, Andrew Rinomhota and Tinotenda Kadewere for Divine Lunga, Brian Banda and Admiral Muskwe.
Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro also made six changes, with Moses Simon, Terem Moffi, Chidera Onyemaechi and Ola Aina replacing Ademola Lookman, Taiwo Awoniyi, Jamilu Collins and Osayi Samuel.
Nigeria dominated the possession and shots, but Zimbabwe defended well and created some chances of its own.
In the second half, Nigeria increased the pressure and looked for the equalizer, but Zimbabwe threatened to complete a giant killing act when Teenage Hadebe and Tanaka Shandirwa missed their chances.
In the 88th minute, Zimbabwe appealed for a penalty when Marshall Munetsi was fouled, but the referee ruled that the foul occurred outside the box.
Following round two matches of the World Cup Group C African qualifiers, South Africa top the table on three points from one game played.
Zimbabwe and Nigeria are on second and third with both tied on two points.
Lesotho and Rwanda both have a single point from a game played each while Benin anchor the six-country table with no point to their name.
The group winners from each group will qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026.
Zimbabwe is rebuilding after the 18-month FIFA suspension that ended in March 2023.
Nigeria is aiming to qualify for its seventh World Cup. The two teams had last met in June 2019, when they played to a goalless draw.