Zimbabwe vs Nigeria Prediction and Tips

Dumitru Palanchuk
Dumitru Palanchuk
17 November 2023, 14:20

Zimbabwe vs Nigeria Preview

The FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification in Africa started with a massive surprise as Nigeria drew minnows Lesotho 1-1 at home in the opening round. Since Group C offers just one direct qualification spot, the Super Eagles will need to pick up their form immediately or risk being outpaced by South Africa.

To avoid the unnecessary headache, Jose Peseiro’s men will need to beat Zimbabwe away from home. The match will be played on neutral territory, with the kick-off in Rwanda scheduled for 3 pm local time on Sunday, November 19.

Before going into our Zimbabwe vs Nigeria prediction, it is important to remember that the Warriors hadn’t played an official match in over 18 months before the encounter with Rwanda earlier this week.

Zimbabwe Preview

Zimbabwe were allowed to return to international football only this September, as the Warriors faced Namibia and Botswana in friendly matches. Before that, Zimbabwe’s latest match came all the way back in January 2022 at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Later that year, FIFA banned Zimbabwe’s national team and the local clubs from any kind of international competitions after the local government had interfered in the dealings of the Zimbabwe Football Association, firing its president. 

Since the lifting of the ban, Zimbabwe has played three matches, all of which have ended in goalless draws. In the lack of competitive action in recent 18 months, it is difficult to have high hopes for nominal hosts in our Zimbabwe vs Nigeria tips.

Nigeria Preview

Nigeria cannot complain about the absence of matches but that did not stop the Super Eagles from dropping the ball against Lesotho. The fans would be right to expect more, although Nigeria’s problem was definitely not insufficient intention – the forwards simply did not convert the multiple scoring opportunities the team created.

To redeem themselves, Nigeria will want to beat Zimbabwe on the road. Since the Super Eagles are expected to compete with South Africa for the first spot in Group C, anything but a win before the head-to-head match next June will mean trouble. The Lesotho result was disappointing but Peseiro’s men are still on a six-match unbeaten run, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Betting tips for Zimbabwe vs Nigeria

Under 2.5 goals

When looking at the Warrior’s recent result, the first thing which comes to mind regarding our Zimbabwe vs Nigeria odds is that the match on Sunday will definitely not bring a lot of goals. Bet365 offer 1.66 odds on under 2.5 goals.

The Warriors’ primary tactic is defensive rigidity, which may be the right approach after 18 months of no football at all. Before trying to build anything up front, Beltemar Brito needs to make sure that his team does not concede. 

Lesotho also parked the bus against Nigeria and got a positive result, which should incentivise Zimbabwe to adopt a similar approach for the upcoming clash. And to cap it off, there were under three goals in the last three matches between Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The Super Eagles beat Zimbabwe 2-0, 1-0, and there was also a goalless draw in 2019.

Kelechi Iheanacho to score anytime

We mentioned above in our Zimbabwe vs Nigeria prediction that the visitors will be desperate for the win, and in situations like these, they need a team leader to rise up to the occasion. In our opinion, there is no better candidate than Kelechi Iheanacho.

Nigeria may have flashier forwards at the moment like Victor Osimhen or Victor Boniface, but we should not discredit Iheanacho. For one, the Leicester City striker is the most experienced man in Nigeria’s attack with nearly 50 appearances, so the weight of responsibility falls on him.

The 27-year-old has had a decent start to the season with the Foxes, scoring five goals since the start of the 2023/24 Championship campaign. We expect that good form to translate into a goal against Zimbabwe, and Bet365 give 2.20 odds on him scoring anytime.

Half Time/Full Time result: Draw, Nigeria win

And finally, if we were to predict how the match on Sunday will pan out, Zimbabwe’s plan will be successful in the first 45 minutes but Nigeria will get the win in the end. Bet365’s odds on a draw in the first half and a full time win for Nigeria stand at 3.50.

In many aspects, we expect the clash at Stade Huye to resemble Nigeria’s draw with Lesotho. That time around, the first half was a draw in which neither team managed to score. With Zimbabwe’s defensive tactics, this seems like a plausible scenario.

The only difference here would be that Nigeria will get what’s theirs in the end. Be it Iheanacho, Boniface or anyone else, the Super Eagles have a superior squad and should be able to score on the road. Peseiro’s men deserved the three points against Lesotho too, so they will let their rage out in the final minutes against Zimbabwe.

Please remember to always gamble responsibly. Our Zimbabwe vs Nigeria tips are mere suggestions, not a call to action. Always rely on your own judgement in the end.