By Amakye Ansah
#19. Nigeria 🇳🇬
Nickname: Super Eagles
Last appearance: 2019
Coach: Augustine Eguavoen (Nigeria)
Best AFCON results: winners 3 (1980,1994,2013)
Skipper: Ahmed Musa
Player to watch: Kelechi Iheanacho
CAF Rankings: 5
FIFA Rankings: 36
3 times winners of the competition,Nigeria is a powerhouse of African football. They can beat any team on any day. Their last triumph in AFCON came in 2013 when Sunday Mba’s 40th minute strike defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
The late Stephen Keshie got everything right as a head coach in 2013, can Augustine Eguavoen get things right in 2022?
56-year-old Augustine Owen Eguavoen replaced German tactician Gernot Rohr after the World Cup qualifiers. Rohr qualified Nigeria to the final 2022 FIFA World Cup playoffs but the NFF deemed it necessary to replace him due to bad performance and inconsistencies.
His 5-year stint with Super Eagles ended on 12 December 2021. Nigeria is one of the
favourites to lift the trophy looking at the talent they have. In a group with Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau, Super Eagles are expected to progress.
Nigeria is blessed with great attackers. Despite losing Tammy Abraham, Karim Adeyemi, Dominic Solanke, Noah Okafor and Lukas Nmecha to England, Germany and Switzerland, they still have enough forward players to rely on.
Although ,Napoli hitman Victor Osimhen and Watford forward Emmanuel Denis are missing, they still have fantastic forwards like kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Alex Iwobi, Taiwo Awoniyi and Peter Olayinka to replace them.
They will miss Victor Osimhen but still remains a threat looking at forward players available for Augustine Eguavoen.
Skipper Ahmed Musa is still around to provide the needed experience. He’s the most capped player for Nigeria (103). He loves to do it when everyone is watching.
The core of the team
Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was the number 1 for Nigeria in their last 3 Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers games. He is expected to keep his place in the starting line-up.
Leon Balogun is not part of the team so
William Troost-Ekong and Keneth Omeruo are anticipated to partner at the heart of the defence.
Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo will link the defence and attack.
Victor Osimhen has been ruled out after contracting Coronavirus and is also yet to recover fully from the facial injury that has sidelined him for a while. Chukwueze, Awoniyi, Moses Simon and Iheanacho will pose much danger to opposition defence.
Maduka Okoye (GK)
Zaidi Sanusi, Awaziem, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo (DF)
Ndidi, Aribo (CM)
Iheanacho, Iwobi, Chukwueze (AM)