Super Eagles Full Squad For AFCON Qualifiers Hit With Controversy

After the international friendly against Portugal in November 2022, Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro has named a 23-man Super Eagles squad for the AFCON qualifying games for the second time in a row under the new leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

A senior member of the NFF board has stated that the coach was now under direction to call up no more than 20 players from Europe, and the rest must come from the local league. Peseiro had previously consistently named 25-man squad that were primarily comprised of players based in Europe.

But a member of the NFF board said:

“We cannot afford to invite so many players from Europe any more because we need to be very judicious in our use of the limited funds we have. “Peseiro can call as many players as he wants, but only 20 can come from abroad. If he needs any more, he should get them from the local league.”

The Portuguese have named three domestic league players as a result of this restriction, including two goalkeepers and a defender from the under-20 team. According to the NFF, this move will help local players gain their confidence, and also make them become more prominent in future squad selections.

“The president wants to make sure that the local league players are recognized in the Super Eagles, and this will be one way to help strengthen the league and make it more attractive,” the board member said.

However, the coach’s choice has been severely criticized.

Goalkeeper Kingsley Aniagboso of Nigerian second-division club Monster Brillars was called up ahead of a large group of Nigeria Premier league players, however his choice isn’t really that questionable of Daniel Bameiyi.

The under-20 defender, according to some sports experts, has not performed well over the past year. After that, Bameiyi was made captain of Nigeria for the CAF Under-20 AFCON, but he didn’t say much about himself during the tournament.

Peseiro’s foreign-based call-ups are also the subject of debate, as nine of the 23 players from the squad that faced Portugal were not selected this time. William Troost-Ekong, vice captain, goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, in-and-out defender Tyronne Ebuehi, midfielder Peter Etebo, and forward Emmanuel Dennis are among the most significant casualties.

Ahmed Musa, the captain who returned, only played 16 minutes of club football in March. Joe Aribo has been training with the under-23s, but he has only appeared in five games for Southampton.

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Paul Onuachu is only marginally superior. Wilfred Ndidi, who was once one of the most reliable players for his club and country, has only started one of Leicester City’s last five games and not played in two of them this season. Kenneth Omeruo, a defender, has only recently recovered from an injury.

Since the forward scored the fastest hat trick in European competition in the UEFA Conference League a day after the list was announced, Gift Organ’s exclusion has only served to exacerbate the situation.

After defeating Sierra Leone and Sao Tome e Principe, Nigeria leads their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group with six points from six. They will play Guinea-Bissau, who are in second place and have four points, in a doubleheader. On March 24, the first match takes place in Abuja, and the second match takes place in Bissau three days later.

Nigeria Super Eagles Squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus), Victor Sochima (Rivers United), Kingsley Aniagboso (Giant Brillars)

Defenders: Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England), Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes, Spain), Calvin Bassey (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Daniel Bameyi (YumYum FC), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal), Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista, Portugal)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England), Frank Onyeka (Brentford, England), Alex Iwobi (Everton, England), Joe Aribo (Southampton, England)

Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England), Ahmed Musa (Sivasspor, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain), Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France), Ademola Lookman (Atalanta, Italy), Terem Moffi (Nice, France), Victor Osimhen (Napoli, Italy), Paul Onuachu (Southampton FC, England)

Credit: ESPN

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