Written by on September 6, 2021

The Super Eagles for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde landed on the island of Mindelo on Monday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos, aboard a special jet of Air Peace airline.

21 players were on board, following the departure of UK-based players who returned to base as a result of the unchanged stance of UK authorities, concerning protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to the country, after visiting another country, on their COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Tuesday’s encounter, scheduled for the 5,000 –capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords several ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigeria squad.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong and Leon Balogun, probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal and Spain –based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks on Tuesday evening.

The departures of two-goal heroes Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru.

But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to empanel entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK.

Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield, as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Lone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier.

Russia –based Chidera Ejuke, Italy –based former junior international Kingsley Michael and a new face, Innocent Bonke, from Sweden are all available.

Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, two days in 11 years, after he won his first against Madagascar in Calabar, if he takes any part in Tuesday’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and the Central African Republic in Douala.

A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum of three points, ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star are victorious against the Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three-time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidi Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy);

Midfielders: Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy); Adekunele Adeleke (Abia Warriors);

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Term Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece).

(Editor: Ifeanyi Mark)

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