The Nigerian national team is set to lose out on the talents of two youngsters already making waves in their Italian top flight
Udinese defender Destiny Udogie has tipped himself and Atalanta star Caleb Okoli to be in the first-team picture for the Italian national team during the next FIFA World Cup in 2026.
Italy missed out on the party at the 2022 World Cup and the reigning European champions have begun preparations towards qualifying for the Euro Championships and ultimately the next Mundial.
Head coach Roberto Mancini a few days ago invited new players to the Italian national team set-up including Nigerian descent and Bari midfielder Michael Folorunsho.
Tottenham-owned wingback Udogie is optimistic that Italy will be present at the next World Cup in four years time and sees at least two youngsters of Nigerian descent – himself included – heavily involved.
Captain Leonardo Bonucci would be 39 years old, Francesco Acerbi 38 and Giovanni Di Lorenzo 33 by the time the 23rd edition of the World Cup kicks off in 2026.
Udogie, 20, does not see any of these top defenders still relevant for Italy in that period and predicts that himself and Atalanta’s 21-year-old centre-back Okoli would form the bedrock of the Azzurri team.
In his prediction during a chat with SportWeek, as per TMW, Udogie sets up Italy in a 3-5-2 formation: “My ideal eleven for the next World Cup: In goal there is no story, Donnarumma. In defence: Bastoni, Okoli and Scalvini.
“In midfield we play Tonali with Barella and one of Frattesi or Pellegrini. Right winger, Bellanova. On the left? Me, or Dimarco who is doing very well. In front is Scamacca and (Napoli’s) Raspadori.”
The 2026 World Cup will be hosted in 16 cities across the three countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.