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Lesotho Shakes Up Group With Victory Over Zimbabwe

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Lesotho moved to the top of Group C with five points after a convincing 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Orlando Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Zimbabwe is playing their home matches in South Africa because, like Lesotho and Benin in this group, they don’t have facilities approved by CAF and FIFA to host international matches.

This group includes Bafana, who will face Nigeria late on Friday night (9 PM) in Uyo. Only a win by Bafana will take Lesotho off the summit of the group ahead of the conclusion of round four on Tuesday. Nigeria has two points and can match Lesotho’s five points if they beat Bafana.

First-half goals by Rethabile Rasethuntsa and Jane Thabantso ensured Lesotho added to the two points they gained in the first two qualifiers away to Nigeria (1-1) and at ‘home’ to Benin (0-0).

Angered by the scoreline and poor effort by his countrymen, a Zimbabwean fan gained entry onto the pitch and tried to attack Zimbabwe coach Jairos Tapera midway through the second half. Thanks to the intervention by the SA Police, Tapera was spared from further humiliation.

Hugo Broos’ Bafana will meet Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday, while Nigeria will be away to second-placed Benin in Ivory Coast on Monday.

Benin registered the first victory in the third round of these qualifiers when they beat Rwanda 1-0 at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Ivory Coast on Thursday, temporarily sharing the top spot with Rwanda with four points.

Lesotho, ranked 147th in the world, will maintain their good start and possibly keep their top position if they beat Rwanda at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Tuesday.

Nine African teams are guaranteed to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico, featuring 48 teams for the first time instead of the usual 32.

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