Twenty-twenty-two was not a great year for the Super Eagles as a team. The three-time continental champions performed below expectations at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
But several Super Eagles stars made the year a memorable one for many fans with their excellent displays for their respective European clubs.
And, in a 4-2-1-3 formation, Soccernet.ng presents a team of the finest eleven players who have made more than one appearance for the Super Eagles.
GK: Francis Uzoho – Omonia Nicosia
It was not the best of years for Nigerian goalkeepers at the top level. The Super Eagles’ two first-choice goalies Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho made costly mistakes at crucial points in the year.
Okoye, though, retreated from the scene after coming under harsh abuse from embittered fans.
However, Uzoho made himself available to the national team handlers during the second half of the year despite suffering almost similar fan treatment.
Playing fairly regularly for his club in Cyprus also hands him the advantage here.
RB: Ola Aina – Torino
Aina’s right-back slot in the Eagles will be challenged in 2023 by Fenerbahce ace Bright Osayi-Samuel but for 2022 no one comes close to the Torino defender.
He was solid for Nigeria at the Afcon, bar the error that led to Tunisia’s winning goal and the Super Eagles’ ouster from the competition.
Snubbed at Torino after he returned from the Nations Cup but his consistency, hard work, and brilliance won him his first team shirt again.
CB: Leon Balogun – Glasgow Rangers and QPR
An injury kept Leon Balogun out of Nigeria’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
But Balogun’s experience and technical nous were in full display as Glasgow Rangers rode to the final of the Europa League, the club’s first appearance in the final of a major European competition in a decade.
The former Mainz man won the Scottish Cup with the Gers after the disappointment of losing the Europa before he moved to Queens Park Rangers in the summer.
Balogun has been a great free signing for QPR and he comfortably edges William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo for a spot on this best eleven.
CB: Calvin Bassey – Glasgow Rangers and Ajax
Traditionally a left full-back, Calvin Bassey went under the guidance of Giovanni van Bronckhorst to become a centre-back and, boy, did he impress.
Bassey was unarguably Rangers’ best player against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final and it was no surprise that he made the official team of the tournament.
Ajax paid over 20 million euros to sign the youngster in the summer to make him the most expensive Nigerian defender in history.
LB: Zaidu Sanusi – Porto
Porto left-back Zaidu Sanusi will not forget 2022 in a hurry.
The former Santa Clara turned from villain to hero among his club’s fans when he scored the only goal in the 93rd minute of O Clássico against Benfica to seal Porto’s 30th league title in May. A beautiful end to the 2021/22 campaign for the Nigerian defender.
Sanusi’s first goal in the Champions League this season also powered Porto to their first win of the group stage (against Bayer Leverkusen) after two embarrassing defeats to Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge.
Porto won each of their remaining four matches to win Group B.
CM: Joe Aribo – Glasgow Rangers and Southampton
One of the best Rangers players of the past three years, Joe Aribo’s peak moments in 2022 would forever linger in the hearts of the Gers’ fans.
The former Charlton Athletic lad scored Rangers’ only goal in the final of the Europa League and played a crucial role as the Ibrox giants lifted the Scottish Cup.
Aribo, who barely three years ago was scampering around League One, then sealed a dream move to the English Premier League after signing for Southampton.
CM: Alex Iwobi – Everton
Iwobi pulled off the biggest turnaround of the year 2022.
Unpopular at Merseyside since arriving in 2019, Iwobi returned from the Afcon in Cameroon certainly not on many Nigerians’ best players lists.
But the arrival of Frank Lampard as Everton’s manager coincided with a change in fortunes for Iwobi.
And the former Arsenal winger has gone on to become the most consistent Nigerian star in the Premier League.
AM: Ademola Lookman – Leicester City, Leipzig, Atalanta
Lookman started 2022 on loan at Leicester City and he impressed Brendan Rodgers so much that it was a given that the Foxes would keep the wide man permanently.
Strangely, LCFC allowed him to return to his parent club Leipzig at the end of the season.
Atalanta pounced almost instantly, signing Lookman on a long-term deal.
Leicester City’s loss has been Atalanta’s gain, however, as Lookman has hit the ground running for the Goddess.
The Super Eagles star has seven goals in the Italian Serie A already.
FW: Cyriel Dessers – Feyenoord, Genk, Cremonese
Unwanted in Genk, Cyriel Dessers became the main man for Feyenoord, especially in the Europa Conference League.
Dessers scored vital goals as the Dutch club beat all the odds to reach the final of the inaugural edition of the competition.
He finished as the top scorer with ten goals, ahead of Roma’s Tammy Abraham.
The former Heracles Almelo forward also grabbed his first goal for the Super Eagles in a friendly against Mexico in May.
Dessers joined Cremonese from Genk ahead of the 2022/23 season and has managed three Serie A goals.
FW: Terem Moffi – FC Lorient
A consistent goalscorer, Terem Moffi is Nigeria’s most-rated footballer in the French Ligue 1.
A productive 2022 saw the young forward net sixteen goals for FC Lorient and three goals in six matches for the Super Eagles.
Moffi’s goals for Nigeria came in the 2-1 loss to Algeria in a friendly in October and in the victory over Sao Tome and Principe in June, where he netted a brace.
After only three years in France, Moffi is now Nigeria’s third most prolific forwards in Ligue 1 history behind John Utaka (59 goals) and Victor Ikpeba (55).
CF: Victor Osimhen – Napoli
Nigeria’s finest goal poachers were at their finishing best in 2022 with Paul Onuachu, Kingsley Onuegbu, and Odion Ighalo, among the leading scorers in their respective leagues.
But with 24 goals for club and country, Osimhen takes the crown as the most prolific Nigerian striker playing in Europe.
Osimhen became Nigeria’s all-time highest goal scorer in Serie A and currently sits atop the league’s top scorer chart with nine goals.
Remarkably, Osimhen is the most valuable player in a Napoli side favourite to lift a first Serie A title in three decades.
Soccernet.ng’s Super Eagles’ Best XI of 2022
DF: Aina, Balogun, Bassey, Sanusi
CM: Aribo, Iwobi
FW: Moffi, Osimhen, Dessers