Super Eagles Squad: 3 Key Concerns As Finidi Unveils Nigeria’s Team for South Africa, Benin Games

Super Eagles Squad: 3 Key Concerns As Finidi Unveils Nigeria’s Team for South Africa, Benin Games

Ero Samson
updated at May 25, 2024 at 1:33 PM
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Ismaila Sodiq
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Kelechi Iheanacho logo
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Philip Otele logo
P. Otele
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  • Finidi George has announced his inaugural squad list for Nigeria’s clash against South Africa and Benin
  • The team list appears to have raised eyebrows amongst many fans and stakeholders of the Nigerian team
  • Sports Brief spotlights three notable concerns from the team sheet announced by the Super Eagles' gaffer

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Finidi George rocked the Nigerian footballing community with the announcement of the much-talked-about squad list of the Nigerian team for the upcoming fixtures against South Africa and Benin Republic.

The team sheet announced by the 53-year-old appears to feature a bulk of the players that represented the Super Eagles at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), however, with a few notable additions.

Nonetheless, following the release of the team sheet for the crunch fixtures, palpable concerns appear to have heralded the country’s footballing space, regarding some inclusions and notable absentees from the list announced by the manager.

Nigeria, Super Eagles, Finidi, NFF, Team, photo, AFCON
Nigerian players pose for a photo during the Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match against Cameroon at Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan. Image: Haykel Hmima.
Source: Getty Images

In light of this, Sports Brief peeks at three major concerns emanating from the squad list announced by coach Finidi for the fixtures against South Africa and Benin Republic.

Concerns from Finidi’s list for South Africa and Benin fixtures

Left-back conundrum

The 23-man list announced by coach Finidi featured six defenders, but notably lacked a dedicated left back.

In recent times, the Nigerian team has relied on Ola Aina, Jamilu Collins, or Zaidu Sanusi to fill the left-back position. However, with all three defenders currently sidelined due to injuries, many speculated that Finidi would call up Boavista’s versatile fullback, Bruno Oyemaechi.

However, the 53-year-old opted to leave out the Portuguese-based defender, assigning the role to Fulham’s centre-back, Calvin Bassey, who has occasionally filled in as left-back for the Super Eagles.

How coach Finidi will configure his defence is a key point of interest, especially given the high-stakes nature of the upcoming fixtures, as Nigeria aims to recover from a lackluster start to their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.

Olawoyin and Otele's absence

Another significant concern arising from Finidi's squad list is the absence of the attacking duo Ibrahim Olawoyin and Philip Otele.

Both players were widely expected to be the new additions to the Super Eagles squad under the new manager. However, Finidi opted to rely on established players, including Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho—who hasn’t been a regular for the Foxes since the end of the AFCON, and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, whom Olawoyin has notably outperformed in the Turkish Super League this season.

Kenneth Omeruo’s exclusion

While some fans have praised the inclusion of Remo Stars’ Sodiq Ismail, another significant concern from Finidi’s squad is the exclusion of veteran defender, Kenneth Omeruo.

The Kasimpasa defender, who has been a mainstay in the Nigerian defence for nearly a decade, is missing from the crucial qualification fixtures for reasons yet unknown.

The AFCON winner was expected to feature in the Super Eagles squad, especially given that the team released by the coach is notably thin in defence.

Amid these palpable concerns echoing throughout the Nigerian footballing community, how the Super Eagles team will be set up under Coach Finidi is certainly a point of interest to watch.

Big names missing from the Super Eagles squad

In another report, Sports Brief compiled a list of notable players missing from coach Finidi's squad.

The list includes AFCON MVP, William Troost-Ekong, and in-form Rangers forward, Cyriel Dessers.

Ero Samson photo
Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).