Connect with us

AFCON

Two Africa Cup of Nations winners make Nigeria’s 25-man squad for AFCON 2023 campaign

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

 

Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s most capped international player and Kenneth Omeruo may be on the threshold of history as they are among a 25-man squad of the Super Eagles to the Africa Cup of Nations holding in Cote d’Ivoire.

 

Should Nigeria triumph, they will be the first players to have Africa Cup of Nations gold medals.

Advertisement

 

They were part of the Super Eagles that won the title 10 years ago in South Africa. In releasing the final list, Nigeria opted for 25, two short of the 27 that CAF allowed.

The registration of 27 players on the final list of is only an option and not an obligation.

According to CAF, in case a team submits a final squad of between 24 and 27 players, only 23 of them will be available for selection for each match during the tournament.

Nigeria’s 25 players are composed of three goalkeepers, nine defenders, five midfielders and eight forwards, suggesting that the Super Eagles plan to be attack-oriented.

Advertisement

It will be the first appearance of skipper of the side, Ahmed Musa whose last outing with the team was on 27 March 2023 when he came in as a 90th minute substitute in the 1-0 away win over Guinea Bissau in Bissau.

He was an unused substitute in the 3-2 away win over Sierra Leone on 18 June 2023 and had thus missed Super Eagles’ last six matches.

The latest inclusion in the squad is South Africa-based goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili who is picked alongside Francis Uzoho and Olorunleke Ojo.

 

Kenneth Omeruo, easily one the longest serving players in the squad, who made his senior debut in the goalless draw with Cape Verde in a 19 January 2013 friendly match, is expected to lead the defence line. With him are

Advertisement

William Ekong, as well as Olaoluwa Aina, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, Calvin Bassey, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Bruno Onyemaechi.

 

Wilfred Ndidi is also back in the team after missing the World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe, and will be expected to adequately feed the strike-force alongside Alex Iwobi, Raphael Onyedika, Joe Ayodele-Aribo and Frank Onyeka.

 

Musa, Nigeria’s record goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup finals with a brace each in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018, is in the forward-line alongside Africa Player of the Year Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Boniface, Sadiq Umar and Ademola Lookman.

Advertisement

 

All the 25 players will depart from their different bases on Tuesday, 2nd January to fly into Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates, for a one-week training camp that will last until Tuesday, 9th January. The team will fly back to Lagos on Tuesday 9th January, and then fly into the Ivorian capital, Abidjan on Wednesday, 10th January.

 

The Super Eagles, in their quest for a fourth continental title, will take on Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, 14th January in their first match of Group A, before further clashes with host nation Cote d’Ivoire (18th January) and Guinea Bissau (22nd January).

 

Advertisement

Nigeria, who will be participating in the Africa Cup of Nations for the 20th time, were champions as hosts in 1980, triumphant in Tunisia in 1994 and crowned winners in South Africa in 2013.

 

When Cote d’Ivoire hosted the finals in 1984, a young Nigerian squad led by the inimitable Stephen Keshi went all the way to the Final, before losing to much-experienced Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in a memorable Final at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.

 

ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:

Advertisement

 

Goalkeepers: Stanley Nwabili (Chippa United, South Africa); Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Olorunleke Ojo (Enyimba FC)

 

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Nottingham Forest, England); Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista FC, Portugal); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); William Troost-Ekong (PAOK Salonika, Greece); Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista FC, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal)

 

Advertisement

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium); Joe Ayodele-Aribo (Southampton FC, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC, England)

 

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Sivasspor K, Turkey); Victor Osimhen (Napoli SC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (Real Sociedad, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy); Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany)

 

Advertisement

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.