Nigeria Super Eagles squad: 10 unanswered questions

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Jose Peseiro, Nigeria
Not everyone’s happy with Jose Peseiro’s latest Nigeria Super Eagles squad…
  1. Why no Akpom?
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    Why no Akpom?

    Chuba Akpom has been banging goals in consistently for Middlesbrough this season. Yes, he’s taken it to another level in recent weeks, but since early November it’s been clear that he’s hitting the form of his career.

    The 27-year-old surely deserves to be part of this Super Eagles cycle, and Peseiro may well have missed a trick to not invite the Anglo-Nigerian attacker into his current squad.

    If this had been one of Nigeria’s priorities in recent weeks, then surely they’d be able to enjoy the services of a frontman who’s scored 24 league goals and counting so far this term.

  2. Will Nigeria compete for Balogun?

    Will Nigeria compete for Balogun?

    Folarin Balogun appears to be closing in on a switch to the United States, with England also potentially offering a future for the Stade de Reims loanee.

    Are Nigeria even competing for his signature, or are the NFF resigned to losing one of the world’s in-form strikers to date?

    Peseiro’s squad—sans 17-goal Balogun—has left supporters none the wiser about whether the Eagles are even competing for the 21-year-old Arsenal wonderkid.

  3. How can Nigeria overlook Gift Orban?
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    How can Nigeria overlook Gift Orban?

    For Akpom and Balogun, potentially the appeals and competition of other countries might dilute their desire—and Nigeria’s—for the two parties to reach an agreement.

    The same can’t be said for Orban, who’s been a revelation in the Belgian top flight since arriving at KAA Gent.

    He scored nine goals in his previous four games before registering an assist against KAS Eupen this weekend, including a 205-second Europa Conference League hat-trick.

    Yet the NFF only deem fit to include him in their U-23 squad. Are we missing something?

  4. Peseiro observing quotas…?

    Peseiro’s 23-man squad included 20 foreign-based players as well as three local stars, fuelling rumours that the head coach has been instructed to include a quota of Nigeria-based players in his selection.

    It’s unlikely that either of the back-up goalkeepers or the young defender included in the squad will get much gametime, but they’re questionable inclusions considering some of the more prominent NPFL players who have—again—been overlooked by the head coach.

    Does Peseiro really see something in the local players included, or have they been called up to meet the rumoured quotas set by the new NFF supervisors?

  5. Why has Ahmed Musa been included?
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    Why has Ahmed Musa been included?

    If Peseiro is indeed limited in how many foreign-based players he can include, then the addition of Musa appears particularly perplexing.

    Sure, he brings experience to the camp, and is the nominal captain, but with no goals and no assists for Sivasspor all season, he’s hardly being included on merit.

    Indeed, Musa has played only eight minutes of league action since early January, and there’s an increasing sense that he’s an empty uniform in the camp.

  6. Do Aribo and Onuachu deserve their places?
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    Do Aribo and Onuachu deserve their places?

    While there won’t be too many complaints about Ndidi returning to the fold given his importance to the camp, the additions of Southampton duo Joe Aribo and Paul Onuachu are riskier.

    Aribo has been relegated to Saints’ U-23 team having played just 11 minutes in the Premier League since January 4, while Onauchu has yet to score in his six appearances for the top flight strugglers.

    With only a handful of midfielders selected, a lot is being expected of Aribo, who will surely be lacking match sharpness, while given the wealth of attacking options open to the Eagles, Onuachu also represents a questionable inclusion.

  7. Why call Aniagboso or Bameyi?

    While a case could be made for a quota of local players to be included in Peseiro’s squad—to cut costs if nothing else—the identity of those called this time around raise a few eyebrows.

    Daniel Bameyi of YumYum FC isn’t even in the NPFL, and hardly suggested at the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations that he’s of the quality to benefit Nigeria.

    Aniagboso is currently in the second tier with lowly Giant Brillars…is he really going to put pressure on Francis Uzoho; can he be trusted if called upon?

    Is he a better bet than Emmanuel Daniel of Lobi Stars or Bendel Insurance’s Amas Obasogie?

  8. Why are the cream of the NPFL being overlooked?

    Peseiro’s decision to call these three local players also opens him to criticism as he’s hardly rewarding or reflecting the best talent in the Nigerian top flight.

    Players such as Joseph Atule (Lobi Stars), Bayelsa United’s Robert Mizo, Osarenkhoe Imade of Bendel Insurance or Akwa United stars Cyril Olisema could have all been worthy inclusions.

    None have been included.

  9. How does Peseiro configure his attack?

    How does Peseiro configure his attack?

    One thing is for sure, regardless of the high-profile omissions, Nigeria nonetheless have some awesome attacking talents at their disposal.

    But how does the head coach fit them all in?

    Victor Osimhen must start as the leading man, but will Peseiro opt for Terem Moffi alongside him with Moses Simon and Ademola Lookman down the flanks, or will he find a place for in-form Kelechi Iheanacho?

    What of Samuel Chukwueze, who has had a hand in six goals in his last seven outings for Villarreal? Can the Yellow Submarine wideman be left on the bench?

  10. Who plays in defence?
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    Who plays in defence?

    With Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong injured, and Kenneth Omeruo only just returning from a fitness problem of his own, Peseiro has some big decisions to make in defence.

    Calvin Bassey in the centre and Zaidu Sanusi on the left should take their places, but will Omeruo be risked, or will Bright Osayi-Samuel be included from the off as an offensive option on the right?

    Bruno Onyemaechi is appealing, and could make his debut, but it might be a risk to throw the talented Portugal-based defender into the mix from the off in a competitive fixture.