Nigeria World Cup qualifiers full squad list and review
In what is the last international break of the 2021 calendar year, the Nigerian Football Federation, in cohort with the Super Eagles' technical director, Gernot Rohr, has released the official 24-man squad list for the November World Cup qualifier fixtures.
This release is especially pivotal not only because it decides if the Green-Whites will bring the rollercoaster year to a positive conclusion, but also offers a glimpse into the possible squad selection for the postponed AFCON 2021 coming up in January.
Having secured automatic qualification for the belated AFCON, the Super Eagles will have to successfully navigate two World Cup Qualifiers that will go a long way in determining if the flagship World Cup 2022 should be on the minds of Nigerians.
The first showdown will be against the Lone Stars of Liberia on November 13th at Morocco's Stade Ibn Batouta - 14:00 WAT.
In the final clash of the Qualifiers, the Super Eagles will invite the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde to the raucous Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on November 16th, kicking off at 14:00 WAT.
The paramount significance of both matches cannot be overemphasized, as these are the last two matches of the second round of the WC Qualifiers.
In a group containing Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia, Nigeria sit top, but not comfortably in any way.
Having played 4 games, Nigeria has amassed 9 points but are being tail-gated by Cape Verde on 7 points. CAR and Liberia are on 4 and 3 points respectively, and still entertain slim hopes of securing qualification.
With just two points between Nigeria and Cape Verde, the former are under immense pressure to return home with maximum points when they depart the Northern city of Tanger, Morocco after Liberia.
If they defeat Liberia, the Super Eagles will have the luxury of playing out a draw when Cape Verde come visiting, which will be enough to top the group.
- To qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, African countries will need to top their individual groups, of which there are ten.
- All 10 table-toppers will then come against one another in a final two-legged round.
- The 5 winners of each fixture qualify for the World Cup.
With such significance placed on these two November fixtures, here are the key points from the official squad list.
Odion Igahlo Celebrates Scoring for Al-Shabab
Without a doubt, the august visitor and biggest surprise in the 24-man squad is former Manchester United and Watford striker, Odion Igahlo. The 32-year-old infamously hung his playing boots at international level in July 2019, despite finishing as the top scorer in the AFCON of that same year.
He hinted at mental exhaustion, stating he wanted to "concentrate on club football" while also depicting himself as a possible hindrance to younger talents in a show of admirable selflessness.
A favourite of German tactician, Gernot Rohr, Ighalo's decision seems to have been vindicated as less than six months after retirement, he secured a dream transfer to English superpowers, Manchester United.
His reasoning to "give the younger players chance to learn and grow" has also been justified, as Nigeria has since enjoyed a spurt of young strikers with Victor Osimhen leading that charge.
Now two years after he called time on international football, Gernot Rohr has cited his fitness level, experience and consistency as reasons for his invitation:
"He is still very fit and playing regularly for his club in Saudi Arabia," said Rohr, "There is no reason not to take him if he is still doing well for his club; Ahmed Musa was with us when he was playing in Saudi Arabia, the question is does he wants to come?
“We hope so because he is an experienced player; we have a young team and he can be useful to his partner strikers to help them develop and score goals for us."
Ighalo currently plies his trade in the Saudi Professional League with Al-Shabab where he has scored 9 goals in 10 appearances this season and is recognized as one of the league’s best players.
He has scored 14 senior goals for Nigeria in 23 competitive outings.
- Tyronne Ebuehi
- Samuel Kalu
- Oghenekaro Etebo
- Terem Moffi
Here is the Super Eagles full squad list for the November World Cup Qualifiers: