With just two weeks to the continental showpiece, Nigeria’s coach Augustine Eguavoen has not released the provisional list of players he plans to take to the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Emerging reports show that the Nigerian Football Federation has not sent invitations to players selected for the challenge ahead.
The development cannot be due to a shortage of players for the Super Eagles as Nigeria possess an army of top-quality footballers playing in the biggest leagues across the world.
A delicate blend of experienced stars and talented youngsters will eventually make the 28-man final list for the Afcon.
While Kelechi Nwakali could see his chances of joining the Afcon party brighten by Eguavoen’s appointment, one or two other youngsters would also hope they have done enough to catch the coach’s attention.
Soccernet brings you Nigeria’s finest youngsters aged 21 and below who have shown their ability in recent times and would have raised the quality of the Eagles in Cameroon
1. Akinkunmi Amoo
At a time the Nigerian senior national team is short on creative attacking midfielders, Akinkunmi Amoo could be one of the long-term solutions.
The former Golden Eaglets ace has refined his skills at Hammarby over the last year and is regarded as one of the brightest youngsters in the Swedish elite division.
Aged only 19, Amoo contributed nine goals and five assists in his debut campaign for Hammarby, and he could be an excellent understudy for Alex Iwobi in Cameroon.
2. Calvin Bassey
It would be shocking to see Calvin Bassey miss out on coach Augustine Eguavoen’s final shortlist after his exploits in recent weeks.
Naturally a left full-back, the Leicester City academy product has excelled as a centre-back for Rangers, helping the Gers to six clean sheets in his last eight games.
Bassey’s versatility, as well as his strength and tackling ability, makes him an excellent addition to any national team.
3. Abraham Marcus
Former national team head coach Gernot Rohr handed Abraham Marcus his first two international caps in June at just 21 after a brilliant year at Portuguese side Feirense.
The Remo Stars FC attacker has, however, not caused as many ripples on another loan spell at Portimonense.
But his talent is undeniable, and his trickery on the ball could help unlock the most stubborn of defences in Cameroon.
4. Paul Mukairu
There is no shortage of wingers in the Super Eagles, but a drop in output from Samuel Kalu and Henry Onyekuru could see a wildcard entry from Paul Mukairu.
The Antalyaspor forward can play anywhere across the front three and could provide Eguavoen with an exciting, tricky option on the wings.
The 21-year-old’s four goals in 16 games in the Turkish domestic competitions shows he can be a secret weapon in Eguavoen’s arsenal.
5. Alhassan Yusuf
Alhassan Yusuf went from little-known Tiki Taka academy in Nigeria to Sweden’s IFK Goteborg to Belgium’s Royal Antwerp in just three years to underline his unique ability.
And with a playing style that seems to fuse the best of Mikel Essien with the doggedness of Claude Makélélé, the 21-year-old is destined for the top.
It is only a matter of time before Kano-born Yusuf makes his Super Eagles debut, and who says it cannot be at Cameroon 2021 if Eguavoen wishes it so.
6. Raphael Onyedika
Few Nigerian 20-year-olds can boast more exposure than FC Midtjylland’s Raphael Onyedika.
Over the last few months, Onyedika has played in the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Danish domestic competitions.
Four goals across these competitions show the defensive midfielder can be a threat in attack as he is astute in shielding his goal.
The Super Eagles have Wilfred Ndidi and Frank Onyeka covering that centre of the field well, but Onyedika could sneak in as an understudy.
7. Ishaq Abdulrazak
Ishaq Abdulrazak’s style of play reminds fans of a young, attack-minded Mikel Obi, and it is evident that there is no ceiling for the former Golden Eaglets star.
The 19-year-old is honing his talents in Sweden with Norrkoping FK, and his four assists in 30 Allsvenskan matches show he is on the right path to further growth.
The 2021 Afcon may come too soon for the youngster, but he is definitely one to watch in the future.