African Cup of Nations 2019: Nigeria Football Team | Final Squad, Preview, Predictions
The three-time champions of Africa are one of the favourites to win this year's African Cup of Nations. With a rather turbulent history in qualifying for the competition, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have finished at least 3rd place 14 times.
While they did not qualify in the last two outings, the Super Eagles have outpaced most of their African counterparts every time they've qualified. They will certainly be gunning for another win this year, or runners-up in the least.
With 2019's edition of AFCON around the corner, the Super Eagles will face Senegal in a friendly clash on the 16th of June. With the match only a few days away, the Nigerian team have landed in Egypt where they are currently training in preparation.
The most notable exclusion in the 23-man-squad released by the Nigerian Football Federation recently is Leicester City star Kelechi Ihenacho. The 22-year-old former Manchester City attacker is yet to make an appearance for the Super Eagles this year. With his exit from the Etihad Stadium and his average form for Leicester last season, it isn't too surprising that Super Eagles gaffer Gernot Rohr made the decision to leave out the young star.
Nigeria are placed in Group B alongside Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi, and they are clear favorites to top their group. Without any real injury challenges or issues, the Super Eagles have the ability to exceed expectations and win the trophy for the fourth time.
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi.
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Jamilu Collins.
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi, Wilfred Ndidi, Okenekaro Etebo, John Ogu.
Forwards: Ahmed Musa, Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi, Samuel Kalu, Paul Onuachu, Samuel Chukwueze.
Wilfred Ndidi: Leicester City bought this dynamo to replace N'Golo Kante who left for Stamford Bridge. While he has not gotten to Kante's standards, the 22-year-old Ndidi has certainly made a name for himself with the Foxes. With an average of 3.8 tackles per game in the Premier League last season, and a shocking average of 5 tackles per game during the World Cup last year, Ndidi will certainly be a constant on Rohr's starting lineup.
Samuel Chukwueze: With 26 La Liga and 9 Europa League apperances for Villareal last season, the 20-year-old star speedster has certainly convinced Nigeria's gaffer that he deserves to be included on the list. While the youngster was virtually unknown for much of the season, his recent form in Spain has raised his profile and has seen Villareal increase his market value from €500,000 to €30 million. Chukwueze will be looking forward to repaying Rohr's faith in him.
Alex Iwobi: With 35 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League last season, Alex Iwobi has been a consistent player for Unai Emery. His most notable appearances include the Europa League final against Chelsea where he came on as a subsitute and scored a scorcher. Iwobi has been a Nigerian fan favorite ever since his inclusion in the National Team 4 years ago. However, this will be his AFCON debut for the Super Eagles.
Nigeria Football Team AFCON Fixtures
Saturday, June 22: Nigeria vs Burundi
Wednesday, June 26: Nigeria vs Guinea
Sunday, June 30: Nigeria vs MadagascarPublished 12 Jun 2019, 21:37 IST