Super Eagles interim head coach Austin Eguavoen has released provisional list of 32 players for the 2022 FIFA World Cup playoffs against Ghana later this month.
The Eagles will face the Black Stars on March 25 at the Cape Coast stadium before the reverse fixture at the Moshood Abiola stadium in Abuja four days later.
Making their international bows will be the duo of Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman who only recently had his international allegiance approved by the world football ruling body, FIFA, and FC Copenhagen of Denmark midfielder Akinkunmi Amoo who was a former youth international.
Making their returns to the fold are Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia’s Odion Ighalo and Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis who were both denied the chance of playing at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon by their clubs – with Ighalo then at Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia as well as Dennis’ club teammate Oghenekaro Etebo, Leon Balogun of Glasgow Rangers and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen who missed the AFCON due to injuries.
The regulars consisting of captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, midfielder Wifred Ndidi and forwards Moses Simon and Kelechi Iheanacho made the cut.
Others in the list are goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Daniel Akpeyi, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo and Samuel Chukwueze.
2021 AFCON forwards Taiwo Awoniyi and Peter Olayinka, defender Chidozie Awaziem and long-time absentee Ogenyi Onazi are in a seven-man standby list.
Everton’s Alex Iwobi was not not named in the squad due to the red card he received in the round of 16 clash against Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Due to the political crisis in Russia and Ukraine, flight availability is suspect so CSKA Moscow’s Chidera Ejuke is only among the standby players.
The Eagles camp opens in Abuja on 21st March, with a 24 –man final list for the two big games to be released at a later date.
Nigeria take on Ghana in the 20,000 –capacity Cape Coast Sports Stadium as from 8.30pm Nigerian time on Friday 25th March, with the reverse leg set for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, 29th March as from 6pm.
The winner over two legs will earn one of Africa’s five tickets to the 22nd FIFA World Cup finals, scheduled for 14th November – 18th December this year in Qatar.
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal).
Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Akinkunmi Amoo (FC Copenhagen, Denmark).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Hilal FC, Saudi Arabia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England).
Standby: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Ogenyi Onazi (Al-Adalah FC, Saudi Arabia)
Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.
In October 2004, Okosi joined Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports newspaper and Complete Football magazine as a reporter and later script writer for the Complete Sports studio.
He worked there for 13 years until October 2017.
Okosi also worked various times as Correspondent, Content creator and Editor at Sports Market International Magazine, Opera News, All Nigeria Soccer Media and Iconic Media Watch.
He also undertook freelance writing gigs for some local and international organizations.
Okosi is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Voiceover Artistes of Nigeria (AVOA), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He has been part of cast in some Nollywood movies and radio dramas including Blood Money 2, Scores To Settle, Dead End 2, Another Campus Tale and Battle Line.
Aside mainstream media and the entertainment industry, he has interests in scouting/unearthing of talents in the sports and creative sectors, exports business and property development.