Tuesday, July 5, 2022
MARKET UPDATE
Advertisement

TheCable

Moses Simon, Joe Aribo, Ola Aina… meet the 28 Eagles flying Nigeria’s flag at AFCON

Moses Simon, Joe Aribo, Ola Aina… meet the 28 Eagles flying Nigeria’s flag at AFCON
January 08
12:42 2022

There was unbridled joy nine years ago when the Super Eagles captured the hearts of millions in their run to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title in South Africa — but going into the 2022 tournament in Cameroon, they are far from favourites.

Augustine Eguavoen, the interim gaffer, has whittled down his squad to 28 players he believes can etch their names in Nigerian folklore.

Let’s get to meet them:

Advertisement

Goalkeepers

Daniel Akpeyi

The goalkeeper position is very much up for grabs. Former coach Gernot Rohr was loyal — arguably to a fault — to Maduka Okoye, who performed well for Nigeria at the qualifiers.

But Akpeyi could well be the man to usurp him. The Kaizer Chiefs goalie has plenty of swagger, bags of confidence in his own ability and unquestionable talent.

Advertisement

Maduka Okoye

Okoye’s stock has continuously been on the rise since he made his debut against Brazil in 2019, so much so that he has been a regular in the role in recent times.

The former Fortuna Düsseldorf keeper started in the 2-0 win over Coton Sports and should continue against Egypt.

Francis Uzoho

Advertisement

Injuries and poor form cost the Aspire Football Academy product his place as the undisputed number one goalie of the Super Eagles.

Uzoho enjoyed a good season at Omonia Nicosia before linking up with the three-time African champions.

John Noble

It would be a turn-up for the books if Noble manages to leapfrog his three rivals to the No 1 shirt.

Advertisement

The Enyimba third choice goalie would have to seriously impress in training to be thrown in against Egypt on January 11 in the opening game — but stranger things have been known to happen.

Barring any surprises, Noble will be the fourth choice keeper and is unlikely to be given any game time.

Advertisement

Defenders

Chidozie Awaziem

Awaziem is a rock at the back and full of confidence after an outstanding season at Alanyaspor.

Advertisement

Ola Aina

It will be a real battle between Aina and Tyrone Ebuehi for the right-back berth but the games come thick and fast, so both may have their time to shine.

Olisa Ndah

How many sleepless nights did Eguavoen have about this selection?

The Orlando Pirates defender has been tipped by many to star in Cameroon, and it will be fascinating to see where he is deployed.

His main strengths are his range of passing and creativity but there have been question marks about his defending in the past. He’ll be desperate to prove the naysayers wrong on the big stage and justify his selection.

Tyrone Ebuehi

Ebuehi has been rewarded for his superb season with Venezia in Italy. He should provide competition to Ola Aina.

Semi Ajayi

The West Bromwich Albion defender is a hugely popular man in the English Championship.

He is unlikely to start but if any of the central defenders pick up an injury, he’ll fancy his chances of being drafted in.

Zaidu Sanusi

Sanusi has the experience of playing the UEFA Champions League for FC Porto and this should help Nigeria at AFCON.

William Troost-Ekong

The Super Eagles vice-captain isn’t having the best of times at Watford. He will be keen to silence his doubters when the Super Eagles take to the pitch.

Kenneth Omeruo

Kenneth Omeruo is deserving of his place in the line-up after a good season at Leganes.

He should pair with William Troost-Ekong in the heart of defence.

Jamilu Collins

One of the favourites of Gernot Rohr, Collins arrived at camp late and should play some part at the tourney.


Midfielders

Joe Aribo

The Rangers man is one of the most exciting talents available to Nigeria and his reputation is such that Premier League clubs want him.

Alex Iwobi

Tournament football can be so tight, hard-fought and sometimes decided with one moment of genius. It would be no surprise to see Iwobi deliver when it matters. There’s plenty of competition for places in his position but leaving him out would be a brave call.   

Iwobi has been underrated for some time but there is no disputing his ability.

Wilfred Ndidi

Ndidi typifies everything great about the Leicester City team of the past few years.

He is at the root of their swashbuckling play and so at ease on the ball.

The Nath Boys product has gone on to become a magnificent player and leader for club and country.

Kelechi Nwakali

Nwakali is a well-rounded midfielder who is able to work hard defensively and contribute in transition.

He is the heartbeat of his Huesca side and will want to be the same for Nigeria.

Frank Onyeka

The jewel in Brentford’s crown, Onyeka has enhanced his reputation as one of the Super Eagles’ best midfielders. He is likely to be used as a defensive shield for those at the back and will have his work cut out for him, especially against the top sides.


Attackers

Taiwo Awoniyi

The Union Berlin striker is exceptional in the air, leaps like the proverbial salmon and started the season on fire.

He has notched 14 goals in all competitions this term and could relish a role when the Super Eagles are desperate to find a breakthrough.

Kelechi Iheanacho

The striker is already an integral part of the Super Eagles team and has everything it takes to light up the AFCON.

Iheanacho has bags of ability but it remains to be seen where Cerezo will play him.

Henry Onyekuru

If Onyekuru can return anywhere near his best, the Olympiacos man might be one of the squad’s best players.

The Super Eagles have been crying out for ball-playing wingers for years and suddenly have four at once!

Ahmed Musa

Musa will have to up his game to cement a spot in the starting side. He has a tendency to snatch at some big chances and has plenty in his tank.

Sadiq Umar

A shining light in good form for Almeria, Umar is a brilliant player with the world at his feet.

Again, his role is likely to be from the bench but if he can translate club performances onto the training pitch, he could make it difficult for Eguavoen to leave him out.

Moses Simon

Simon has a box of tricks to beat defenders and is capable of jaw-dropping moments.

Any opposition full-back seeing Simon’s name on the team sheet will know he’s in for a long day’s work and there will be fierce competition for places in Nigeria’s attack so he will know he has to perform to keep his spot.

Samuel Chukwueze

On his day, Chukwueze can be a game-changer and one of the best wingers in African football but Eguavoen must find a way to drag it out of him.

Chidera Ejuke

The CSKA Moscow man played in the middle of the park against Coton Sports and didn’t look out of sorts. It appears that the skilful Ejuke might play a role at the 33rd AFCON.

Peter Olayinka

Olayinka steps onto the pitch and plays as though he hasn’t got a care in the world.

For some reason, it has taken a while for the Slavia Praha man to be given the credit he deserves but there’s no doubting his immense talent and more importantly, his ability to pop up with big goals.

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment