The Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday announced the names of 30 players ahead of the Super Eagles’ friendly matches against Mexico and Ecuador later this month and in early June.
Soccernet.ng’s Imhons Erons highlights five major talking points that have drawn the most reactions from fans and neutrals alike.
1. Osimhen tops the list of the missing regulars
Victor Osimhen is fit and healthy, and he was on hand to help Napoli record a narrow 1-0 win at Torino on Sunday, but his name is not on the 30-man roster released on Monday.
Reports suggest he asked to be excused from the friendlies, but no reason has been given for the absence of strikers Kelechi Iheanacho, Paul Onuachu, Odion Ighalo, and Taiwo Awoniyi.
All have been in fine form for their clubs, and they will surely be missed against Mexico and Ecuador.
Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, and John Noble also sit this one out, and it would be good to see a couple of new pairs of gloves from the NPFL.
2. Will the NFF release another list ahead of Sierra Leone?
It is understandable and exciting to see so many new players invited for the international friendlies.
But there are only six days between Nigeria’s friendly meeting with Ecuador and the country’s first 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.
Will the NFF roll out another list of players for that clash, or will the Super Eagles face the Leone Stars with a large chunk of their best stars missing?
If the answer to that first question is No, we may be underrating a team that drew 4-4 with the Eagles the last time they were in Nigeria.
3. Who cooked up this 30-man roster?
The Super Eagles have no substantive head coach yet, but last month the NFF named the quartet of Salisu Yusuf (as Chief Coach), Usman Abdallah, Finidi George, and Ike Shorunmu (as assistants).
And they likely came up with this list that has gotten many associated with the local league dancing for joy at the moment.
It a privilege, it an honour, to make the super eagles list, am so happy. I owe God everything. God plsz🙏!!! pic.twitter.com/Xg8W1L0tyy— Victor Mbaoma (@VictorMbaoma) May 10, 2022
The Super Eagles cannot continue to operate without a substantive head coach or Technical Adviser, though, and the quicker one is appointed, the better for everyone.
At the moment, the NFF and its leaders will take responsibility for any failure recorded by the team.
4. Will the invited home-based players get the chance to prove their worth?
Eight home-based stars, including defender Ibrahim Buhari and forwards Victor Mbaoma and Ishaq Rafiu, can only generate good vibes for the NPFL.
The unexpected call-up for goalkeepers Adewale Adeyinka and Ojo Olorunleke has been a sweet surprise that should delight watchers of the NPFL.
No disrespect to John Noble but 26-year-old Olorunleke, a proven shot-stopper on the local scene, is Enyimba’s best goalkeeper.
And former Golden Eaglet goalie Adewale Adeyinka has to be regarded as one of the best in the business after leading Akwa United to the league title last term.
Both have not been flying this term with their respective clubs, and the duo of Rivers United’s Sochima Victor and Remo Stars’ Kayode Bankole, who boast impressive numbers of clean sheets, will feel hard done by.
5. Cyriel Dessers is back
The Feyenoord striker earned his first Super Eagles call-up in 2019, and he appears set to add to that solitary appearance in the coming days.
Ten goals in the Europa Conference League for Dessers and another eight in the Eredivisie show a striker full of confidence at the moment.
And in the absence of Osimhen, the on-loan Genk star can lead the line effectively for the Eagles against Mexico and Ecuador. That is not a given, though, as Almeria’s Sadiq Umar is also in the squad.
6. Great to have Ahmed Musa back to lead the Eagles
Like him or hate him, Ahmed Musa is Nigeria’s most-capped player ever, and at just 30 years, the Fatih Karagumruk attacker still has quite a few more exciting days ahead to wear the green and white kit.
Musa hinted that Qatar 2022 could be his last major tournament for Nigeria if the Eagles had qualified. It is, however, pleasing to have him continue to lead his colleagues on the road to Ivory Coast 2022.
The former Leicester City ace may not be as fast as he once was, but his leadership qualities are not in doubt, and at a time when the Eagles are struggling, the team needs that and more to soar out of the dark times.
Nigeria will clash with North American giants Mexico at the AT & T Stadium in Dallas, State of Texas, on Saturday, May 28, before flying to New Jersey to tackle Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison on Friday, June 3.
Six days later, the three-time African champions meet Sierra Leone in Abuja (9th June) on matchday one of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign before trading tackles with São Tomé & Príncipe in Marrakech, Morocco, on June 13.