Salah nets four as Egypt begin road to 2026 WC in style

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Mohamed Salah scored four times and took his goal tally for Egypt past 50 as they began their World Cup qualifying campaign with an expected victory over tiny Djibouti, while Nigeria were held to a shock home draw by Lesotho on Thursday.

Salah’s performance ensured a 6-0 win for Egypt in their opening Group A match in Cairo, with the striker grabbing the first four goals and increasing his overall tally for Egypt to 53 in 93 appearances as they look for a place at the 2026 finals, having missed out on the Qatar World Cup last year.

Nigeria, without injured Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, were held to a 1-1 draw at a rainy Uyo by the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho, who are 113 places below them in the FIFA rankings.

Defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi put Lesotho into a shock lead after 56 minutes of the Group C encounter and they kept their advantage for 11 minutes before London-born centre-back Semi Ajayi headed home the equaliser from Kelechi Iheanacho’s corner.

But despite pressure on the visitors’ goal for the remainder of the game, Nigeria could not fashion a winner and the result will put heavy pressure on coach Jose Peserio, just two months out from their participation at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Meanwhile, Mozambique claimed the first away victory of the African qualifying campaign, which got under way this week, beating Botswana 3-2 in Group G, with Jonathan Muiomo, who plays in the fourth tier of German club football, scoring the winner in only his second appearance.

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