Super Eagles chief coach Gernot Rohr, has released his 24-man list of players to prosecute the double-header 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying fixture against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone later this month.
As earlier reported by Complete Sports on Wednesday, the trio of forwards, Cyriel Dessers, Kelechi Iheanacho and Samuel Kalu have been called up by Rohr for the two matches.
Complete Sports’ OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN takes a good look at each of the 24 players that have been invited and also their form at their respective club-sides so far during the 2019/20 season.
Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, S/Africa)
Date of birth/Age: Aug 3, 1986 (33)
Daniel Akpeyi has bounced back in style after his unimpressive display at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt where Nigeria finished third particularly with an error against Algeria in the semi-final which saw Riyad Mahrez score a late free-kick.
Akpeyi has been in impressive form for Kaizer Chiefs this season, keeping nine clean-sheets in 18 appearances to help his club stay on top of the South African Soccer Premier League standings.
However, the 33-year-old made a costly error against Maritzburg United in a recent league encounter which saw Chiefs lose 2-1 that led to another round of criticism from pundits.
But Akpeyi pulled off a string of stunning saves to contribute to a 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Saturday and was ultimately named the man of the match as well.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland, Nigeria)
Date of birth/Age: Oct 16, 1988 (31)
Ikechukwu Ezenwa has never really been the first-choice goalkeeper for the Super Eagles as he has always had to play second fiddle but going into next month’s AFCON qualifiers, he is doing well.
The 31-year-old has also seemingly disclosed his readiness for the two games against Sierra Leone with his performances for Heartland in recent times which has seen him keep six clean-sheets in ten matches.
Ezenwa said: “Six clean sheets out of ten matches is unbelievable, It gives me a lot of confidence going into the National team camp. I know it is not always easy but it is always great to go into the Super Eagles camp while in top form.”
Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)
Date of birth/Age: Aug 28, 1999 (20)
Maduka Okoye gives Nigeria a glimmer of hope as he has been promoted to the senior team of Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga from Fortuna Dusseldorf II in the German Regionalliga West.
Okoye who made his national team debut when the Super Eagles drew 1-1 with Brazil in a friendly last year has made 13 German Regionalliga West appearances for Fortuna this season from which he has only one clean-sheet while conceding 26 goals.
The 20-year-old was, however, last in goal in a German Regionalliga West encounter which saw Fortuna play out a 2-2 draw with Bonner SC at the Sportpark Nord on 26 January, 2020.
Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain)
Date of birth/Age: Oct 17, 1993 (26)
Kenneth Omeruo is an African Cup of Nations winner, having achieved that feat with the Super Eagles back in South Africa in 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi. The former Chelsea defender has been consistent ever since joining Leganes in 2018.
So far during the 2019/20 season, Omeruo has started all of his 18 La Liga games in the colours of the Cucumber Growers with one goal and five yellow cards in his record.
William Troost-Ekong (Udinese, Italy)
Date of birth/Age: Sep 1, 1993 (26)
William Troost-Ekong is such a strong character in the Super Eagles’ heart of defence and ever since emerging as the deputy skipper to Ahmed Musa, the Dutch-born central defender has developed his game at both club and national team levels.
So far this season, the Dutch-born Troost-Ekong has made 22 starts in all of his 22 Italian Serie A appearances for Udinese with eight clean-sheets to his credit.
Jamilu Collins (Paderborn, Germany)
Date of birth/Age: Aug 5, 1994 (25)
Jamilu Collins has been a regular for both Nigeria and club, Paderborn so far this season. The Kaduna-born player has been a regular starter for Paderborn after playing 20 Bundesliga games this term with a goal and two assists to his name.
The left-back made a return to the starting XI after missing the 3-2 loss against Bayern Munich more than a week ago through injury but could do little to prevent Paderborn from going down 2-0 away at Mainz 05 last Saturday.
Ola Aina (Torino, Italy)
Date of birth/Age: Oct 8, 1996 (23)
Ever since making a departure from Chelsea in the summer of 2018, Ola Aina has grown in leaps and bounds as the versatile defensive player has been a regular member of Torino’s starting eleven as he always churns out good performances.
Aina has so far made 15 starts in 20 Italian Serie A appearances for Torino with a hugely disappointing number of just four clean-sheets to his credit.
Leon Balogun (Wigan Athletic, England)
Date of birth/Age: Jun 28, 1988 (31)
Leon Balogun has rediscovered himself since leaving parent club, Brighton & Hove Albion for Wigan Athletic during the winter transfer window in January with the defender playing regularly.
Wigan have not lost a game when Balogun played and last Saturday, the Latics extended their unbeaten run in that time to five, keeping three clean-sheets while stunning the Championship leaders, West Brom 1-0 at the Hawthorns.
Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain)
Date of birth/Age: Jan 1, 1997 (23)
Chidozie Awaziem who currently plays on loan at CD Leganes from parent club, FC Porto of Portugal is such a reliable defender and he showed that during the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt with some commanding displays.
So far during the 2019/20 season, Awaziem has made 15 starts in 17 La Liga games in the colours of the Cucumber Growers with four clean-sheets to show for his effort.
Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)
Date of birth/Age: Nov 9, 1993 (26)
Semi Ajayi popularly known as Semi Ajayi has so far shone like a million stars at West Bromwich Albion this season despite only joining the Baggies during the summer transfer window.
In 34 SkyBet Championship appearances for the Baggies this season, the versatile Ajayi has scored five goals, kept nine clean-sheets, picked up five cautions and a red card.
Kingsley Ehizibue (FC Cologne, Germany)
Date of birth/Age: May 25, 1995 (24)
Ehizibue plays as a right full-back for his German club and this season, the youngster has made 20 starts in 21 Bundesliga appearances for Cologne, scoring once and making an assist.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England)
Date of birth/Age: Dec 16, 1996 (23)
Since joining Leicester City in January 2017, Wilfred Ndidi has developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in the whole of England and this has seen him emerge as the best Premier League tackler for two seasons in a row.
Despite his injuries so far this season, Ndidi is still very much relied upon, having played 22 Premier League matches from which he has two goals, one assist and three yellow cards. Overall, he has played 26 games this season.
Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey)
Date of birth/Age: Mar 12, 1993 (26)
Abdullahi Shehu has been showing his versatility in recent times with the natural right full-back having been moved into the midfield position at his Turkish club, Bursaspor FC.
Shehu recently played his 50th game for Bursaspor against Altay SK since joining the club from Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus. He has three goals in the league which is his best goal return in a single-season for a European club.
Oghenekaro Etebo (Getafe FC, Spain)
Date of birth/Age: Nov 9, 1995 (24)
Oghenekaro Etebo has not really shone at Getafe and it is quite a surprise that the midfielder got a call-up at all from manager, Gernot Rohr to play for the Super Eagles against Sierra Leone.
Since joining the Azulones on loan from Stoke City in January, the 24-year-old has made six appearances, five in the league and one in the Copa del Rey without scoring or even making an assist.
Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)
Date of birth/Age: Jul 21, 1996 (23)
Joe Aribo has so far shone for the Nigerian national team after finding the back of the net on two occasions in just four appearances for the Super Eagles in the year 2019.
Aribo has hit the back of the net an impressive nine times in 45 games across all competitions in his debut season for Rangers in Scotland. He also has eight assists.
Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)
Date of birth/Age: Dec 12, 1992 (27)
Ramon Azeez’s performances for Granada so far during the 2019/20 campaign are enough to earn the former Nigerian youth international yet another call-up to the Super Eagles under Rohr.
Azeez has scored two times in 17 La Liga appearances for Granada so far this season, including once in a shock 2-0 win over Barcelona last year September.
Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr FC, Saudi Arabia)
Date of birth/Age: Oct 14, 1992 (27)
Skipper and one of the most senior members of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa has seen it all in football. He is a proud winner of the African Cup of Nations while he is also the highest-scoring Nigerian player at the FIFA World Cup with four goals.
Musa has four assists in 15 league appearances while in 20 games in all competitions this season, he has two goals for Al Nassr with both coming in four matches in the King Cup.
Alex Iwobi (Everton, England)
Date of birth/Age: May 3, 1996 (23)
After leaving Arsenal in the summer transfer window, a whole lot of Nigerians felt Alex Iwobi’s game will drop at Everton which is seen as a lesser club but Austin Okocha’s nephew has shown that he is a born footballer.
The Super Eagles winger has netted only once in 18 Premier League appearances for the Toffees while he has two goals and an assist in 22 matches across all competitions.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain)
Date of birth/Age: May 22, 1999 (20)
Samuel Chukwueze has matured into one of the best wingers in Spain particularly with his electrifying pace and in recent times, he has had numerous transfer links to top clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Sevilla and Real Madrid.
So far during the 2019/20 season, the 20-year-old has netted three times and rendered as many assists after making 25 Spanish top-flight appearances for the Yellow Submarine.
Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux, France)
Date of birth/Age: Aug 26, 1997 (22)
Samuel Kalu is the most skillful player in the Super Eagles at this very moment and the attacker also shoots with boot feet. He is also good at dead ball situations. Although, his form has stuttered in recent times, he will certainly bounce back.
The 22-year-old has been in and out of the Bordeaux squad this season because of injury, featuring in 19 league games, starting 14, netting just once and making an assist.
Victor Osimhen (Lille, France)
Date of birth/Age: Dec 29, 1998 (21)
Victor Osimhen has been in the form of his life since joining Lille from Sporting Charleroi of Belgium last summer, netting 18 goals and making six assists in 37 games in all competitions. He is also the Super Eagles first-choice striker.
The 21-year-old is also leading the Super Eagles’s charge in the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers having now scored three goals and rendered two assists in only two matches.
Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)
Date of birth/Age: Jul 12, 1995 (24)
In all competitions so far this season, Moses Simon has hit the back of the net on nine occasions while setting up eight other goals in 29 appearances for Nantes where he is currently on loan from Levante of Spain.
Cyriel Dessers (Heracles Almelo, The Netherlands)
Date of birth/Age: Dec 8, 1994 (25)
Belgian-born Dessers who is the current leading scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 15 goals in 25 games for Heracles Almelo is now set to realize his dream of playing Nigeria, having attracted interest from both nations.
Currently sitting atop the Dutch scoring charts, the 25-year-old provides an intriguing option in attack for the Nigeria national team whose point-man is Lille forward, Victor Osimhen who will now get a serious competition.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)
Date of birth/Age: Oct 3, 1996 (23)
Kelechi Iheanacho has rediscovered himself with the Leicester City attacker now getting game time on a regular basis for his English Premier League club so far during the 2019/20 season after falling out of favour last term.
The 23-year-old who is earning a recall to the Super Eagles after a long time out has three goals and four assists in eleven Premier League appearances this season while he has eight goals in 16 games across all competitions.
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