Football

Lookman, Osimhen named in Nigeria’s crucial 2026 World Cup qualifier squad

Newly appointed head coach Finidi George has named an attack-focused squad as the Super Eagles aim to dominate Group C, signaling a clear departure from the defensive tactics employed in the previous Africa Cup of Nations.

“With the calibre of players that we have, we cannot play defensive football,” George stated.

“We have to get the right balance between attack and defence.”

Ademola Lookman of Atalanta and Victor Osimhen of Napoli will lead the offensive lineup.

The midfield is fortified with the additions of Wilfred Ndidi, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, and Raphael Onyedika.

George has also given a first call-up to Remo Stars’ wing-back Sadiq Ismail, who has been outstanding in the Nigerian domestic league with 12 assists this season.

Maduka Okoye returns as the goalkeeper after missing the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, replacing Francis Uzoho despite his recent good form.

Stanley Nwabali of Chippa United, who kept four clean sheets at the AFCON, is expected to continue as Nigeria’s number one.

Nigeria, currently third in their qualifying group after beating Mauritania and losing to Sudan, will look to maximize home advantage against South Africa in Uyo on June 7, before facing Benin in Abidjan on June 10.

With automatic qualification for the 2026 World Cup for the top two teams, George understands the importance of securing maximum points.

Squad:Goalkeepers: Stanley Nwabali (Chippa United, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Udinese FC, Italy); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista FC, Portugal); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Sadiq Ismail (Remo Stars FC); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England); Benjamin Tanimu (Ihefu SC, Tanzania)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium); Alhassan Yusuf Abdullahi (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC, England); Fisayo Dele-Bashiru (Hatayspor, Turkey)

Forwards: Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany); Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy); Paul Onuachu (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany); Terem Moffi (OGC Nice, France)

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