The Super Eagles have landed on the island of Mindelo for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde.
21 players touched down in Cape Verde on Monday, following the departure of UK-based players who returned after the unchanged stance of UK authorities concerning protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to the country after visiting a country on their COVID-19 red list.
The match will take place on Tuesday evening at the 5,000 capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, provides an opportunity for other players who didn’t feature in last week’s Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos.
The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong and Leon Balogun will give a chance for Italy–based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal and Kenneth Omeruo to start against the Blue Sharks.
The departures of 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 midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are all available.
Captain Ahmed Musa is likely to earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first cap 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 Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star are victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.
SUPER EAGLES PLAYERS IN CAPE VERDE
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); Zaidu 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); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece).