In a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone this Sunday, Nigeria find themselves in a must-not-lose situation to secure their place in next year’s tournament.
Here, Soccernet.ng‘s Imhons Erons predicts the possible Super Eagles starting lineup that head coach Jose Peseiro might deploy against the Leone Stars.
With the suspension of first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, Israel-based Adebayo Adeleye will likely step in. Adeleye’s experience in high-pressure matches could give him the edge over NPFL-based Victor Sochima and Olorunleke Ojo.
Defenders: Osayi-Samuel, Troost-Ekong, Ajayi, Sanusi
At right-back, the choice seems clear as Osayi-Samuel has consistently impressed since his debut in November.
The left-back position presents a tougher decision, with Zaidu Sanusi and Calvin Bassey both in contention. However, given his recent success in the Portuguese League Cup, Sanusi may be favoured.
Troost-Ekong is a mainstay in Peseiro’s lineup, and alongside him, Ajayi’s strong form for West Brom could earn him a starting spot.
Midfielders: Onyeka, Alex Iwobi
Peseiro typically opts for a two-man midfield supported by two dynamic wingers.
With Ndidi not in peak form, Onyeka could be given the opportunity to shine in a defensive midfield role, disrupting the opponents’ play.
Iwobi will be the primary playmaker responsible for orchestrating the team’s offensive game.
Forwards: Simon, Iheanacho, Osimhen, Chukwueze
Moses Simon has been performing exceptionally well in training, positioning him as a strong candidate for the left flank.
While Ademola Lookman is recovering from a slight knock, Samuel Chukwueze of Villarreal could secure the starting spot on the right.
The leading goal scorer in the Afcon qualifiers, Victor Osimhen, is expected to spearhead the attack, aiming to add to his tally of five goals.
In the absence of Terem Moffi, Kelechi Iheanacho is likely to partner with Osimhen upfront. Nottingham Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi will be ready to make an impact from the bench if needed.