Super Eagles chief coach, Gernot Rohr has released his 24-man list of players to prosecute the double-header 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifying fixtures against the Republic of Benin and Lesotho later this month.

Nigeria, top of the Group E log with eight points, one ahead of Benin and five more than third-placed Sierra Leone tackle the Squirrels away at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday, 27th March and will lock horns with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos three days later.

Both are the concluding games of the qualifying series. Rohr has surprisingly included captain, Ahmed Musa who is currently without a club, deputy captain, William Troost-Ekong, goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, defensive midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi and Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen.

Also included are Enyimba goalkeeper, John Noble, defenders, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Olaoluwa Aina, midfielders, Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo and forwards, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze.

The versatile Abdullahi Shehu is listed as a midfielder this time and there is a first senior call for Spain–based forward, Sadiq Umar of UD Almeria. Seven players including long–time goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi are on stand-by.

Rohr who has steered Nigeria to qualifying for two major tournaments, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 African Cup of Nations with a game to spare countenances even better accomplishment this time.

That is because the Eagles could earn a ticket to the finals in Cameroon before kick-off in Porto Novo should Lesotho and Sierra Leone end their encounter in Maseru in a stalemate. The result would be known before kick-off in Porto Novo.

Complete Sports reporter, Oluyemi Ogunseyin takes a good look at each of the 24 players that have been invited and also their form at their respective club-sides so far during the 2020/21 season…


Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 28, 1998 (22)

Caps/Goals: 16/0

Francis Uzoho joined APOEL Nicosia from Spanish second division club, Deportivo La Coruna on a three-year deal during the summer window of last year, having played on loan at fellow Cypriot First Division side, Omonia Nicosia during the 2019/20 season.

And ever since teaming up with APOEL, Uzoho who earlier this season made a return from a career-threatening injury he suffered in the Super Eagles’ 1-1 international friendly draw with Brazil on October 13, 2019 has made nine Cypriot First Division appearances.

The goalkeeper’s statistics show that he has conceded eight goals in those nine league matches he has featured in for APOEL while keeping three clean-sheets and picking up two yellow cards.

John Noble (Enyimba FC, Nigeria)

Date of birth/Age: June 6, 1993 (27)

Caps/Goals: 0/0

Enyimba football club of Aba signed the former Cynosure FC of Abakaliki safe hands, John Noble on a three-year deal in August 2020 and has made nine appearances in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

He has kept two clean-sheets and conceded seven goals. Noble who is from Ogoni, Rivers State played in the Togolese Premier Division club-side, ASCK FC where his team emerged as champions of the 2019/2020 Togo Premier League.

The brilliant goalkeeper had a brief spell with Panthere Sportive of Nde of Cameroon in 2018 before joining Association Sportive Des Conducteurs De Kara (ASCK De Kara) FC where he won the Togolese Championnat National.

He was part of the Togolese champions, ASCK Kara team in the 2019/2020 season’s CAF Champions League. His prowess lies in stopping penalties, area balls and one-on-one situations.

Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Date of birth/Age: Aug 28, 1999 (21)

Caps/Goals: 5/0

Maduka Okoye failed in his bid for a sixth clean-sheet of the season following Sparta Rotterdam’s 1-1 draw with FC Emmen in Friday’s Eredivisie game at the De Oude Meerdijk.

Okoye made his 18th league appearance for the Red and White Gladiators against Emmen but despite his efforts, his side only managed to share the points as the tie ended 1-1.

Okoye has been leaking in goals aplenty and for the record, the German-born Nigerian goalkeeper last kept a clean-sheet on January 28 when Sparta drew goalless with Twente.

The Super Eagles shot-stopper even has it worse when it comes to helping his club win football matches as Sparta are on an eight-game winless streak in the Dutch top-flight.

Sparta also known as The Red-White Gladiators or The Castle Lords last won an Eredivisie match on January 13 when it beat Fortuna Sittard 1-0 at the Fortuna Sittard Stadion.

The goal the Nigerian conceded versus Emmen took his tally to 28 in just 13 outings while he has now kept clean-sheets in five matches after making a total of 18 appearances.


Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 17, 1993 (27)

Caps/Goals: 50/1

Kenneth Omeruo is an African Cup of Nations winner, having achieved that feat with the Super Eagles back in South Africa in 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi. The former Chelsea defender has been consistent ever since joining CD Leganes of Spain in 2018.

So far during the 2020/21 season, Omeruo has made 16 starts in his 17 La Liga SmartBank games in the colours of the Cucumber Growers with one goal and five yellow cards in his record.

Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)

Date of birth/Age: Jun 28, 1988 (32)

Caps/Goals: 31/0

Leon Balogun on Sunday won the first ever league title of his football career when Glasgow Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title after thrashing St. Mirren 3-0 at Ibrox Stadium.

The league win, the first for Rangers since the year 2011 ended Celtic’s hopes of getting a tenth successive title. Celtic relinquished their Scottish crown to Steven Gerrard’s team after a 0-0 draw against Dundee United on Sunday.

Balogun has so far made 18 Scottish top-flight appearances for the Gers during the 2020/21 season with two assists to his name while across all competitions, the central defender has played 26 matches.

The 32 year-old defender played a significant role in Steven Gerrard’s side becoming champions again after a whopping ten years.

Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal)

Date of birth/Age: Jan 1, 1997 (24)

Caps/Goals: 12/1

Chidozie Awaziem who currently plays on loan at FC Boavista from parent club and fellow Portuguese Primeira Liga side, FC Porto of is such a reliable defender and he showed that during the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt and thereafter with some commanding displays.

So far during the 2020/21 season, Awaziem has made 18 Portuguese Primeira Liga appearances in the colours of Boavista whom he joined on loan in the summer with one assist to show for his effort.

The Super Eagles defender was at his playing best for Boavista on Saturday night as they boosted their chances of avoiding relegation following an impressive 3-0 win at home to FC Famalicao.

Boavista got the perfect start they desired when they took the lead on 17 minutes after Awaziem had headed a corner kick towards the part of Ricardo Mangas who then also headed the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

Awaziem who played the entire match duration had a game rating of 7.1, made 4 clearances, won 4 duels and also completed 82% of his passes.

William Troost-Ekong (Watford FC, England)

Date of birth/Age: Sep 1, 1993 (27)

Caps/Goals: 39/2

Nigeria’s vice captain, William Troost-Ekong on Saturday made his 23rd start in 24 Skybet Championship games from which he has scored once to help Watford secure all three points against Nottingham Forest at the Vicarage Road stadium.

Troost-Ekong says the team’s primary focus is to continue with their impressive form and ensure that the Hornets secure promotion to the English Premier League next season.

He is such a strong character in the Super Eagles’ heart of defence and ever since emerging as the deputy skipper to Ahmed Musa, the Dutch-born central defender has developed his game at both club and national team levels.

Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 8, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 14/0

Ever since making a departure from Chelsea in the summer of 2018 first for Torino, Olaoluwa Aina has grown in leaps and bounds as the versatile defensive player has been a regular member of Fulham’s starting eleven as he always churns out good performances.

Aina agreed to join newly-promoted Fulham on an initial loan move with an obligation to buy. The 23-year-old who can play as a left-back, right back or as a wing-back had to leave Torino for Fulham to get minutes as the Turin-based side signed Ricardo Rodriguez from AC Milan.

Aina has so far made starts in all of his 24 Premier League appearances for the Cottagers with the defender finding the back of the net twice and making one assist while bagging a yellow card.

Jamilu Collins (Paderborn, Germany)

Date of birth/Age: Aug 5, 1994 (26)

Caps/Goals: 14/0

Jamilu Collins was suspended for Paderborn’s 3-2 Bundesliga 2 loss to Darmstadt at the Benteler-Arena on Friday due to the accumulation of yellow cards after being booked five times already this season.

Collins made his 15th Bundesliga 2 appearance of the 2020/21 season for Paderborn which fell 1-0 to Jahn Regensburg in an encounter which was played at the Jahnstadion Regensburg on the 26th of February.

The Super Eagles left full-back was on from the start but did not finish the game after picking up a 39th minute yellow card and was replaced by Svante Ingelsson nine minutes to the end of the tie.

That happened to be the fifth time that the defender would be cautioned so far during the 2020/21 season and he automatically missed out on his club-side’s league game which took place on Friday.

Nigerian international, Collins recently put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with Paderborn which was relegated from the Bundesliga after spending just one season in the German top-flight.

Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal)

Date of birth/Age: Jun 13, 1997 (23)

Caps/Goals: 3/0

Nigerian defender, Zaidu Sanusi was not in action when FC Porto handed out a 2-0 defeat away to Gil Vicente in Saturday’s Portuguese Taca da liga game which held at the Municipal de Barcelos.

The 23-year-old left full-back was in the match-day squad of Porto but he stayed on the bench all through the encounter which was quite surprising as he has been a regular starter at the club.

Sanusi since moving to Porto from Santa Clara in the summer transfer window of last year has played 19 league matches from which the defender has scored one goal and made another assist.

The disciplined Nigerian left full-back has also been shown the yellow card on two occasions in the Portuguese top-flight so far during the 2020/21 season while he has been sent off once.

The 23-year-old netted his only league goal for Porto till date on 5 December, 2020 as early as four minutes when his side beat Tondela 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at the Estadio Do Dragao.

Sanusi on 23 December, 2020 won the Portuguese Super Cup with Porto after beating rivals, Benfica 2-0 at Estadio Municipal de Aveiro which was the first trophy of his professional career.

Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands)

Date of birth/Age: Dec 16, 1995 (25)

Caps/Goals: 8/0

Super Eagles defender, Tyronne Ebuehi made his 24th appearance of the 2020/21 Eredivisie campaign on Saturday as FC Twente Enschede played out a 1-1 draw with Willem II at De Grolsch Veste.

Ebuehi made yet another start for the club-side which he teamed up with last summer and played for 66 minutes in the game before the defender was taken off and replaced by Nathangelo Markelo.

The 24-year-old scored his first Twente goal in a 2-2 draw versus Feyenoord in an Eredivisie encounter two weeks ago. He has also contributed one other assist in 24 Dutch top-flight outings.


Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England)

Date of birth/Age: Dec 16, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 34/0

Since joining Leicester City in January 2017, Wilfred Ndidi has developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in the whole of England and this has seen him emerge as the best Premier League tackler for two seasons in a row.

Despite his injuries so far this season, Ndidi is still very much relied upon, having played 16 Premier League matches from which he has one goal, two assists and three yellow cards. Overall, he has played 23 games this season.

Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosa, Cyprus)

Date of birth/Age: Mar 12, 1993 (27)

Caps/Goals: 27/0

Abdullahi Shehu has been showing his versatility in recent times with the natural right full-back having been moved into the midfield position at his Cypriot First Division side, Omonia Nicosia whom he joined from Turkish club, Bursaspor FC last summer.

Shehu only on Saturday played his 22nd Cypriot First Division game for Omonia which played out a goalless draw against Anorthosis Famagusta FC at the Neo GSP. The versatile player has been booked three times.

Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray, Turkey)

Date of birth/Age: Nov 9, 1995 (25)

Caps/Goals: 31/2

Oghenekaro Etebo has not really shone at Galatasaray and it is quite a surprise that the midfielder keeps getting a call-up from manager, Gernot Rohr to play for the Super Eagles.

Since joining Galatasaray on loan from Stoke City in the summer of 2020, the 25-year-old has made 22 appearances, 17 in the league, two in the Europa League and three in the Turkish Cup without scoring or even making an assist.

Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)

Date of birth/Age: Jul 21, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 6/2

Joe Aribo on Sunday won the first ever league title of his football career when Glasgow Rangers won the Scottish Premiership title after thrashing St. Mirren 3-0 at Ibrox Stadium.

The league win, the first for Rangers since the year 2011 ended Celtic’s hopes of getting a tenth successive title. Celtic relinquished their Scottish crown to Steven Gerrard’s team after a 0-0 draw against Dundee United on Sunday.

Aribo has so far made 25 Scottish top-flight appearances for the Gers during the 2020/21 season with six goals and four assists to his name while across all competitions, the midfielder has played 33 matches.

The 24-year-old played a significant role in Steven Gerrard’s side becoming champions again after a whopping ten years.

He has shone for Nigeria after finding the back of the net on two occasions in just six appearances for the Super Eagles since making his debut in 2019.

Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Date of birth/Age: Nov 9, 1993 (27)

Caps/Goals: 9/0

Oluwasemilogo Adesewo Ibidapo Ajayi popularly known as Semi Ajayi shone like a million stars with West Bromwich Albion in the SkyBet Championship during the 2019/20 season which saw the team promoted to the Premier League.

The Baggies have, however, found the going very tough so far during the current campaign as they are down in the relegation zone on the Premier League standings.

In 24 EPL appearances for West Brom this season, the versatile Ajayi has scored two goals, picked up three yellow cards and one other red card. In all competitions, he has netted three times in 25 matches.


Ahmed Musa (Unattached)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 14, 1992 (28)

Caps/Goals: 95/15

Skipper and one of the most senior members of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa has seen it all in football. He is a proud winner of the African Cup of Nations while he is also the highest-scoring Nigerian player at the FIFA World Cup with four goals.

Musa’s call-up by Rohr, however, leaves a whole lot of questions to be answered as the forward has been inactive since leaving Saudi Arabian side, Al Nassr FC in October of last year.

And debate has already started in the local media in Nigeria as to what role Musa can play for the Super Eagles later this month against the pair of Benin and Lesotho.

Alex Iwobi (Everton, England)

Date of birth/Age: May 3, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 38/6

After leaving Arsenal in the summer transfer window, a whole lot of Nigerians felt Alex Iwobi’s game will drop at Everton which is seen as a lesser club but Austin Okocha’s nephew has shown that he is a born footballer.

The Super Eagles winger who has bounced back to life at Goodison Park has netted once and made two assists in 24 Premier League appearances for the Toffees this term while he has two goals and three assists in 27 matches across all competitions.

Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain)

Date of birth/Age: May 22, 1999 (21)

Caps/Goals: 14/2

Samuel Chukwueze has matured into one of the best wingers in Spain particularly with his electrifying pace and in recent times, he has had numerous transfer links to top clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Sevilla and Real Madrid.

So far during the 2020/21 season, the 21-year-old has netted once and rendered three assists after making 20 Spanish top-flight appearances for the Yellow Submarine.

Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux, France)

Date of birth/Age: Aug 26, 1997 (23)

Caps/Goals: 12/2

Samuel Kalu is one of the most skillful players in the Super Eagles at this very moment and the attacker also shoots with boot feet. He is also good at dead ball situations.

His form has improved in recent times with the 23-year-old who has been a regular starter in the Bordeaux squad this season featuring in 17 league games, netting four goals and making one assist.

Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy)

Date of birth/Age: Dec 29, 1998 (22)

Caps/Goals: 9/5

Victor Osimhen scored on his return from injury to help Napoli secure a 3-1 victory over Bologna in Sunday’s Serie A match which was played at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

The 22-year-old had been out of action since February 21 when he suffered a head trauma against Atalanta also in an Italian league game. The Nigerian international landed awkwardly and hit his head on the turf following a collision with Cristian Romero in the encounter.

The forward was subsequently rushed to the hospital, where he spent the night, but after undergoing several tests, he was cleared of any serious injury but advised to rest before playing again.

Subsequently, Osimhen missed the Parthenopeans’ last seven games, including last Wednesday’s draw against Sassuolo. On Sunday, he made his much-awaited return in style at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, scoring his third goal of the season in eleven Serie A games.

Osimhen is the Super Eagles first-choice striker and leading the team’s charge in the 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifiers having now scored four goals and rendered two assists in only three matches.

Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)

Date of birth/Age: Jul 12, 1995 (25)

Caps/Goals: 30/5

In all competitions so far this season, Moses Simon has hit the back of the net on four occasions while setting up one other goal in 24 appearances for Nantes whom he joined from Levante of Spain.

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 3, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 23/7

Kelechi Iheanacho has rediscovered himself with the Leicester City attacker now getting game time on a regular basis for his English Premier League club so far during the 2020/21 season after falling out of favour in previous campaigns.

The 24-year-old on Saturday scored his third Premier League goal of the season to help Leicester come from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.

Iheanacho had cancelled out Adam Lallana’s first Seagulls goal by calmly lifting the ball over Brighton goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez with 62 minutes on the clock before a late win.

Leicester Mercury wrote this about Iheanacho: “Kelechi Iheanacho: He was keen to get on the ball in the first half and tried to find Vardy when he could but his touch wouldn’t stick.

“He then showed excellent composure to score again, waiting for Sanchez to go low then scooping the ball over him. He is making the most of this run in the team.” He was rated 7.

Iheanacho has now struck the back of the net in each of his last two Premier League appearances, having netted in just one of his previous 17 in the English top-flight competition.

Sadiq Umar (Almeria FC, Spain)

Date of birth/Age: Feb 2, 1997 (24)

Caps/Goals: 0/0

Almeria forward, Sadiq Umar as expected has also been handed his first senior call-up following his spectacular performances for the Spanish Segunda side this season.

Umar has scored 22 goals and provided seven assists in 41 appearances across all competitions for Almeria and former club, Partizan Belgrade of Serbia amid other dazzling displays.





Similar Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular