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Meet your 2021 AFCON Super Eagles

Eguavoen, Salisu set to lead technical crew

The delayed 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to kick off today in Cameroon, and Nigeria’s Super Eagles will commence their group stage action on Tuesday 11th of January against seven-time champions Egypt.

CAF have announced the tournament’s rules of engagement and the teams are set for their games across Cameroon.

The technical crew of the Super Eagles will be headed by former international and coach Austin Eguavoen, and he will be supported by former Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo, Salisu Yusuf and Paul Aigbogun.

Eguavoen remains the only coach in history to lead the Super Eagles to win all three of their group stage matches at AFCON after he achieved the feat in 2006 en route to a third-place finish.

Here is a breakdown of the squad in Garoua, Cameroon:

Goalkeepers

  • Maduka Okoye: 22-year-old Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper. He has been the Super Eagles first choice since 2019. Looks dependable and not too shaky, although he lets in questionable goals at times.
  • Daniel Akpeyi: A seasoned veteran, plays for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa. Very good at club level, but tends to concede questionable goals in a Super Eagles shirt
  • Francis Uzoho: 23-year-old Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper. Was tipped to be long-term first-choice for Super Eagles until a knee injury halted his progression after the World Cup in 2018. Very dependable goalkeeper.
  • John Noble: Enyimba goalkeeper and only NPFL player included in the squad. Was important to Enyimba last season, but has been usurped by Olorunleke Ojo at the NPFL club. Has not played a single minute of competitive football since August 2021.

Defenders

  • William Troost-Ekong: Watford defender, has been a regular for the Super Eagles since his debut in 2015. The usually dependable centre-back has not looked at his best for club and country in the past months, leading to speculation that he may be dropped from the starting XI at the competition.
  • Kenneth Omeruo: One of the most experienced members of the squad and survivor of the victorious class of 2013. The Leganes defender lost his place in the squad after the emergence of the Oyinbo wall, but is expected to start in the absence of the injured Leon Balogun.
  • Chidozie Awaziem: Dependable versatile defender plying his trade in Turkey with Alanyaspor. Awaziem can play in a back three or back four as a CB, RCB, RB or RWB.
  • Olisa Ndah: A surprise inclusion in the squad. The 23-year-old former Akwa United defender has earned rave reviews in South Africa since moving to Orlando Pirates. A composed ball-playing central defender, Ndah is in line to make his full Super Eagles debut at the competition.
  • Ola Aina: Formed from the same fabric that created Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, Ola Aina has already shown what he is capable of in the 2019 AFCON. The versatile full-backĀ  is expected to fill in at right-back in Garoua.
  • Zaidu Sanusi: FC Porto star Zaidu Sanusi is a quality left-back who has played at the highest level of European football. The former Santa Clara man should start for the Super Eagles at left-back.
  • Tyronne Ebuehi: Venezia right-back drafted in as a replacement for Abdullahi Shehu, Ebuehi is a dependable defender who can attack well also.
  • Jamilu Collins: Collins has been Super Eagles’ first-choice left-back for the past few months, but his late arrival to camp coupled with Sanusi’s form of recent may mean that the SC Paderborn 07 man starts the tournament on the bench.
  • Semi Ajayi: West Bromwich Albion man Semi Ajayi is a defender that has goals in him. The Arsenal academy graduate is capable of playing in defensive midfield also, if needed. The towering defender is potent at both ends of the pitch.
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Midfielders

  • Wilfred Ndidi: Leicester City anchor Wilfred Ndidi will have an important role to play in this squad being the most experienced midfield player at the tournament for the Super Eagles.
  • Frank Onyeka: Brentford man Onyeka is a rapid, tenacious midfielder who never stops running around the pitch. He is set to be thrust into the limelight of his first international tournament alongside Ndidi in midfield.
  • Joe Aribo: Aribo is an exceptional player for Rangers, but less so for the Super Eagles. The midfielder has hardly stood out in a Nigeria shirt, but will be looking to make his mark in Cameroon wearing the number 10 shirt.
  • Kelechi Nwakali: The real “outsider” in the Super Eagles midfield. Kelechi Nwakali played alongside Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze at U17 level but has failed to keep up with both players since. The attacking midfielder plays for SD Huesca and is adept at shooting from range. Nwakali also has a good passing range and should be a good option off the bench.

Forwards

  • Taiwo Awoniyi: Union Berlin man Taiwo Awoniyi is the most prolific Nigerian striker in Europe this season. The 24-year-old has made one appearance for the Super Eagles, and is expected to lead the line in Cameroon.
  • Ahmed Musa: Super Eagles captain and legend Ahmed Musa is the other member of the victorious 2013 class alongside Omeruo. The Fatih Karagumruk man will be looking to add to his impressive appearance record and add another trophy to his name.
  • Kelechi Iheanacho: A huge chunk of the Super Eagles goalscoring burden in Cameroon is set to be on Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho. Iheanacho thrives playing off another striker, and Eguavoen will look to utilise him in his best position.
  • Alex Iwobi: Everton man Alex Iwobi has shown that he always reserves his best performances for the Super Eagles. The attacker is another who can be trusted to deliver the goods for Nigeria in Cameroon.
  • Samuel Chukwueze: Fondly known as the Nigerian Messi, Chukwueze has a wand of a left foot and a dazzling array of skills in his arsenal. The right winger was also part of the bronze-winning side in 2019, and even scored a goal in the quarterfinal.
  • Chidera Ejuke: One player to look out for at this competition is CSKA Moscow winger Chidera Ejuke. The 22-year-old is arguably the best dribbler at the competition, and coach Eguavoen has hinted at him playing a more central role in the team in Cameroon.
  • Moses Simon: FC Nantes winger Simon is a versatile player who can play as a winger or wing-back. Simon is an accomplished crosser of the ball and good dribbler who can create chances and goalscoring situations.
  • Sadiq Umar: Lanky Almeria striker Sadiq Umar will look to stake his claim with the Super Eagles. The forward is adept at playing with his back to goal as a target man, and will provide a different dimension for the Super Eagles, if needed.
  • Henry Onyekuru: Olympiakos winger Onyekuru is another explosive dribbler for the Super Eagles. He was a member of the 2019 squad in Egypt, and will be hoping to add another medal to his collection.
  • Peter Olayinka: Slavia Prague striker Olayinka has been knocking on the Super Eagles door for a while with a string of impressive performances for the Czech club. Olayinka was drafted in as a replacement for Emmanuel Dennis. The striker will look to make his mark in Cameroon.
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Salahudeen Sulayman

Sulayman is a sports enthusiast and budding Sports writer. You can reach him on Twitter @Sulayman_Salah

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