Mixed results for African giants in 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers

The recent matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Africa have seen some surprising outcomes for the big footballing nations on the continent.

Algeria faced a shocking 2-1 defeat at home against Guinea, breaking their perfect start to qualifying in Group G. Goals from Morlaye Sylla and Aguibou Camara, along with an own goal by Yasser Balde, sealed the victory for Guinea.

Mali also suffered a setback as Ghana came from behind to secure a 2-1 win in Bamako, with Jordan Ayew scoring the winning goal in stoppage time.

Nigeria, the runners-up in the Africa Cup of Nations, are still searching for their first win after being held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Group C. Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo managed to hold Senegal to a 1-1 draw with a late equalizer from Fiston Mayele.

In other surprising results, Sudan defeated Mauritania 2-0, South Sudan held Togo to a 1-1 draw, and Madagascar secured a 2-1 victory over Comoros.

A notable upset was Lesotho’s 2-0 win against Zimbabwe in Johannesburg, propelling the small nation to the top of Group C, which also includes Nigeria and South Africa.

Despite these unexpected outcomes, some of the prominent teams managed to secure wins to stay in the race for direct qualification. African champions Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia both won 1-0 against Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, while Egypt and Morocco clinched narrow 2-1 victories over Burkina Faso and Zambia.

The third round of qualifiers began on Wednesday and will conclude on Saturday, with Cameroon facing Cape Verde and Gambia taking on Seychelles.

The nine group winners from the continent will automatically qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, while the four best runners-up will compete for a spot in the FIFA Play-Off Tournament.