Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations squad: Super Eagles Power Ranking

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Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Daniel Akpeyi, Peter Etebo of Nigeria
GOAL’s Ed Dove ranks Nigeria’s Super Eagles on their chances of making Jose Peseiro’s squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

We still have over six months to go until the Africa Cup of Nations, but already Nigeria supporters are beginning to talk up the Super Eagles’ chances of going the distance in the Ivory Coast.

The West African giants boosted their hopes of qualification with a 1-0 victory away at Guinea-Bissau to round off a troubled international break, and now have their sights set on the Afcon.

However, with competition as intense as it’s ever been for the three-time champions, which players are in the running to represent Nigeria at the tournament.

Here’s our Nigeria Super Eagles squad Power Ranking for Afcon 2023.

  1. Odion Ighalo

    #61 Odion Ighalo

    Ok…ok…hear us out on this one.

    Ighalo has been written off before, but has returned to contention—and from retirement—on multiple occasions in the past.

    Don’t bet against one final hurrah for the Nations Cup.

  2. #60 Victor Mbaoma

    Admittedly, it would require something sensational from the 26-year-old in Uzbekistan to force his way back into the Super Eagles’ plans.

  3. #59 Stanley Nwabali

    The stopper is enjoying something of a breakout campaign in the PSL, having made four league appearances for Chippa United while also representing them in cup competitions.

    The 26-year-old surely deserves consideration, and was considered by national-team selectors during his Lobi Stars days.

  4. #58 Babatunde Bello

    The young midfielder has many admirers, and has passed the eye test in Egyptian football, but the Nations Cup may come too soon for him.

  5. Folarin Balogun

    #57 Folarin Balogun

    The Arsenal loanee has been a revelation in Ligue 1 this season after signing for Stade de Reims, and is currently rivalling Kylian Mbappe for the division’s Golden Boot.

    He has 17 goals so far this season, and while Nigeria are already stocked for attacking options, they’d still be wise to push for Balogun.

    Eligible for both England and the United States, would Balogun be ready to commit to the Super Eagles?

  6. Chuba Akpom
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    #56 Chuba Akpom

    Another former Arsenal star, Akpom has been named Player of the Month for the third time this season as he enjoys a remarkable return to prominence with Middlesbrough.

    He’s scored 25 goals in 32 Championship outings this term, and while he hasn’t yet featured for the national side, the Super Eagles must surely start considering him.

  7. #55 John Noble

    Named in the squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Noble has struggled to get a look in since, with the Enyimba man apparently adamant that a dispute with the NFF over bonuses is the reason why he’s being overlooked.

    Based on merits, should he be included?

  8. #54 Afeez Nosiru

    Is in the process of making the step up from the NPFL to European football with Greek side Panetolikos, Nosiru needs a monster 10 months in order to force his way into Peseiro’s plans.

  9. #53 Emmanuel Daniel

    Daniel, who was part of the Nigeria set-up in the last decade, has been given relatively short shrift from selectors in recent years.

    He was part of the side at the 2015 African Games and the Olympics a year later, and was even given a closer look for the seniors with Gernot Rohr.

    Impressing again for Lobi Stars, is it time for him to return?

  10. Abdullahi Shehu

    #52 Abdullahi Shehu

    Made three substitute appearances last year, and his experience and versatility could yet make him a contender for a squad place should he find form, favour (and a new club) in the coming months.

  11. #51 Amas Obasogie

    Peseiro called two local stoppers into the national side for the Guinea-Bissau double-header, but Obasogie was surprisingly overlooked.

    His consistency in recent years has been admirable, not least for Bendel Insurance this term, and he could well be the pick of the NPFL stoppers this term.

  12. #50 Ebube Duru

    Talented Rivers United left-back who will likely be squeezed out of contention due to competition.

  13. #49 Samson Gbadebo

    Received his maiden call-up in August, but will a move to Iraq take him out of Peseiro's thoughts?

  14. Kelechi Nwakali

    #48 Kelechi Nwakali

    Once the bright hope of the Nigeria came, Nwakali has proved us wrong and been considered by the seniors before.

    Can he do so again?

  15. Caleb Okoli

    #47 Caleb Okoli

    The 21-year-old is eligible for both Italy and Nigeria, and having represented the Azzurri at U-21 level, had been expected to seek an international future with the Europeans.

    However, Nigeria appear to be taking note of the defender—who has made a dozen appearances in the Italian top flight this term—and Okoli could join teammate Ademola Lookman in camp.

  16. Victor Boniface

    #46 Victor Boniface

    Boniface has found the net in both Norway and Belgium, but is yet to get recognised by the national set-up beyond U-20 level.

    Surely his time has come.

    He scored four in four for Union SG in Belgium in February, and he could squeeze Paul Onuachu—who’s yet to find the net in the Premier League—out of the squad.

  17. #45 Victor Sochima

    The Rivers United man was one of several home-based players included in the 23-man squad.

    Is he genuinely in contention for the Afcon?

  18. Kingsley Aniagboso

    #44 Kingsley Aniagboso

    Makes the latest squad ahead of Maduka Okoye following some encouraging performances for the U-20s.

  19. #43 Daniel Bameyi

    The Yum Yum FC prospect was been named among the defensive options in the latest squad.

  20. #42 Daniel Akpeyi

    Back employed at Swallows FC having spent the first half of the PSL season unattached, Akpeyi is the most experienced option on this list, despite having a troubled international career for the national side.

    He’s played just two league games since May 2022, but if he can improve his sharpness in the coming months, could yet return to prominence.

  21. Peter Olayinka

    #41 Peter Olayinka

    The quality options in attack mean that Olayinka’s going to struggle to get a look in, however 10 goals in 18 Czech top flight outings so far mean he can’t be discounted.

  22. #40 Adebayo Adeleye

    Considered by international selectors last year, Adeleye is yet to receive his first cap for the national side…but could that change this month?

    The 22-year-old has been starring in Israel this season, following in the footsteps of Vincent Enyeama, and has registered nine shut-outs in the league this season.

    Surely, he deserves a spot in the squad. Might he even be in line to receive his first cap?

  23. Cyriel Dessers

    #39 Cyriel Dessers

    Dessers can’t seem to string together two consistent seasons at club level, let alone a sustained place in the Nigeria squad.

    He’s bagged five goals in Serie A this term, but competition is looking fierce for a spot in Nigeria’s attacking roster.

  24. #38 Sebastian Osigwe

    The Switzerland-based stopper received his maiden call-up to the national side in October 2020, but has got precious little recognition since.

    At 29, he’s in his prime, is it time for him to finally make his international debut?

  25. Tyronne Ebuehi
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    #37 Tyronne Ebuehi

    Featuring at a high level at Empoli, but is Nigeria's third-choice right-back currently, and may need injury to a rival to make the cut.

  26. Olisa Ndah

    #36 Olisa Ndah

    Realistically looking like seventh or eighth-choice centre-back at the time of writing, and could require injuries to others to stake his claim.

  27. Jamilu Collins

    #35 Jamilu Collins

    Finding himself - at best - third choice for a left-back role following the arrival on the scene of Bruno Onyemeachi.

  28. Chidera Ejuke

    #34 Chidera Ejuke

    Hardly setting the world alight in the German second tier with Bundesliga, but Ejuke is among a clutch of widemen who could make the squad in a back-up role if injury or loss of form befalls one of Peseiro’s top three wingers.

    …or if the head coach finally loses faith in bullet proof Ahmed Musa.

  29. Chidozie Awaziem

    #33 Chidozie Awaziem

    Once appeared set to become the future of the Nigeria defence, but may now have a battle on his hands just to make the squad.

  30. Umar Sadiq
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    #32 Umar Sadiq

    What a difference a year has made for Sadiq.

    A year ago, he was finally begun to prove himself as a potential option for the Super Eagles, but a ruptured cruciate ligament put paid to that, and he’s still some way away from a return.

  31. Maduka Okoye
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    #31 Maduka Okoye

    Unused in the league by Watford this season, Okoye has been limited to appearances in cup competitions for the Hornets.

    It’s cost him his place in the national side, with Peseiro instead opting for two home-based keepers to provide back-up to Francis Uzoho.

  32. Gift Orban
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    #30 Gift Orban

    Ignore the fact that he’s only 20, or yet to take his maiden steps in international football, it’s not too early for Nigeria to invite Orban into the camp.

    The attacker has been sensational at Gent since arriving in Belgium from Stabaek earlier this year, and is maintaining the form that saw him named top scorer in the Norwegian Premier League last term.

    He currently has nine goals in seven Jupiler League outings—including four against Zulte Waregem—and it’s definitely time to fast-track him into the squad.

  33. Henry Onyekuru

    #29 Henry Onyekuru

    Still failing—spectacularly—to realise his potential, yet Onyekuru’s versatility and experience could prove useful assets.

    He’s also proven in the past—even though he hasn’t done it recently—that he can contribute goals from wide areas, and may muscle his way back in with a strong end to 2023.

  34. Emmanuel Dennis
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    #28 Emmanuel Dennis

    Hasn’t thrived at Forest, with only two Premier League goals this term, but his ten league strikes with Watford last term demonstrate that he can do it at the highest level.

  35. Raphael Onyedika

    #27 Raphael Onyedika

    Hasn’t quite settled in international football as many had expected, but he’s featured seven times in the Champions League this season, and could well prove useful to Peseiro.

    With Ndidi and Onyeka both struggling, Onyedika has time on his side to stake a claim in midfield.

  36. Bruno Onyemaechi
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    #26 Bruno Onyemaechi

    An outstanding performer in Portugal this season so far, Onyemaechi can be a useful option as a left-back or on the left side of a defensive three.

    It will be fascinating to see what he can bring to the national side.

  37. Innocent Bonke
    NFF Media

    #25 Innocent Bonke

    Included on the provisional 34-man list ahead of the recent international break, before dropping out of the final squad, how does Bonke avoid a similar fate in January?

  38. Paul Onuachu

    #24 Paul Onuachu

    Offering a classic Plan B off the bench—despite not yet scoring for Southampton—Onuachu has squeezed Cyriel Dessers out of the squad.

  39. Taiwo Awoniyi

    #23 Taiwo Awoniyi

    There's so much competition among the strikers hoping to make it onto the plane for Nigeria.

    Awoniyi, just returning to fitness at Nottingham Forest, is probably fourth in the pecking order.

  40. Semi Ajayi

    #22 Semi Ajayi

    Not the most popular player among Super Eagles fans, but with some key absentees, Ajayi reaffirmed his value against Guinea-Bissau.

  41. Leon Balogun
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    #21 Leon Balogun

    Another key defensive absentee from the last international break, Balogun has made just 13 appearances for Queen’s Park Rangers this term.

    At 34, this is probably his last shot at Afcon glory.

  42. Oghenekaro Etebo

    #20 Oghenekaro Etebo

    Back in action in Greek football with Aris Thessaloniki, there were expectations that Etebo might return to the Super Eagles fold.

    Instead, he missed out while Brentford’s Frank Onyeka was named for the last call-up.

  43. Kevin Akpoguma

    #19 Kevin Akpoguma

    Another central defensive option, injury curtailed Akpoguma's participation against Guinea-Bissau.

  44. Frank Onyeka

    #18 Frank Onyeka

    Onyeka was named ahead of Etebo - likely his direct rival - for the last international call-up, but will a sub-par showing allow the Greece-based midfielder back in?

  45. Ahmed Musa

    #17 Ahmed Musa

    The veteran Super Eagles skipper continues to be named in Nigeria squads, even though he's yet to score or assist for Sivasspor this term.

  46. Joe Aribo
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    #16 Joe Aribo

    Aribo continues to struggle for regular gametime at Southampton—he’s played 90 minutes just once in 2023 so far—but he remains a valuable asset for the Super Eagles.

  47. Ola Aina

    #15 Ola Aina

    Such a useful option for Nigeria, Aina’s capacity to play in either full-back position, as part of a back three, or in a more advanced role should have made him a shoo-in for the Eagles squad.

  48. Kelechi Iheanacho

    #14 Kelechi Iheanacho

    Nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month for February, Iheanacho could be a valuable option for Nigeria in tandem with Osimhen.

  49. Francis Uzoho
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    #13 Francis Uzoho

    He played nine matches for the national side in 2022, and with some of his rivals either struggling for gametime or failing to impress, Uzoho should be Peseiro’s No. 1.

    However, could suspension for the next international break allow one of his rivals in to stake a claim?

  50. Terem Moffi

    #12 Terem Moffi

    Enjoying life at OGC Nice after signing from FC Lorient in January, Moffi appears primed to be an option off the bench for Nigeria with Osimhen likely to lead the line.

  51. Ademola Lookman

    #11 Ademola Lookman

    A revelation in Serie A with Atalanta this season, Lookman has gone off the boil recently but he still boasts enough quality to cause serious problems for opponents.

  52. Kenneth Omeruo

    #10 Kenneth Omeruo

    Only injury will keep Omeruo from the squad, although he may not start for Nigeria, he remains a valuable option for Peseiro.

  53. Moses Simon

    #9 Moses Simon

    Not enjoying his best season at Nantes—Simon has only registered one assist and has zero goals since mid-November.

    Nonetheless, he should be in Peseiro’s squad.

  54. Zaidu Sanusi

    #8 Zaidu Sanusi

    Nigeria’s first-choice left-back, Sanusi should still see off competition from Jamilu Collins and Bruno Onyemeachi to keep his place in the starting XI for the Eagles.

  55. William Troost-Ekong

    #7 William Troost-Ekong

    The most high-profile player missing from the international break, injury kept Troost away, but he still remains favourite to start in the heart of the defence.

  56. Samuel Chukwueze

    #6 Samuel Chukwueze

    Chukwueze has enjoyed a purple patch of form for Villarreal recently, but flattered to deceive during the international break.

  57. Wilfred Ndidi

    #5 Wilfred Ndidi

    Injuries have affected his season with Leicester City, but Ndidi should still be Nigeria’s first-choice anchorman, even if he was massively off the pace against Guinea-Bissau .

  58. Bright Osayi-Samuel

    #4 Bright Osayi-Samuel

    The biggest positive of the recent international break for the Super Eagles, Osayi-Samuel looks to have made the right-back berth his own, with his attacking forays forward giving an extra dimension to Nigeria's attack.

  59. Calvin Bassey

    #3 Calvin Bassey

    Bassey’s form at Ajax may be patchy, but he’s the future of the Nigeria defence, even if the Guinea-Bissau meeting wasn't his finest hour.

  60. Alex Iwobi

    #2 Alex Iwobi

    A revelation at Everton this season, what can Iwobi achieve with the Eagles at the Afcon next year?

  61. Victor Osimhen
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    #1 Victor Osimhen

    Utterly lethal at Napoli this season—and on track for the Scudetto—is Osimhen primed for a major transfer to the Premier League during the summer?