The Nigeria Football Federation on Saturday (December 25) announced the names of 28 Super Eagles players for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.
With four goalkeepers, nine defenders, five midfielders, and ten strikers, the team consists of some of the best Nigerian footballers in the world.
As comprehensive as the 28-man squad list appears, it still leaves out some very talented stars whose inclusion would have raised no eyebrows.
Two Super Eagles regulars will miss the continent’s biggest showpiece in Cameroon due to injury.
While Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has made a remarkable recovery from his face fractures to be available for the Afcon, the same cannot be said of Watford’s Oghenekaro Etebo and Genk’s Paul Onuachu.
The two were part of the bronze medal-winning squad to the last edition in Egypt and would have been in Cameroon next month but for their wounds.
Five other players who were at Egypt 2019 but will not be at the 33rd edition of the Afcon are goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Samuel Kalu, John Ogu, Henry Onyekuru, and retired international John Obi Mikel.
Despite being in top form and peak physical condition, Trabzonspor’s Anthony Nwakaeme, Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka, Feyenoord’s Cyriel Dessers, Hoffenheim’s Kevin Akpoguma, and Rangers defender Calvin Bassey will wonder why they are not on the plane to Cameroon.
Terem Moffi’s poor recent form for Lorient would have contributed to his exclusion. Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi and West Brom’s Semi Ajayi continue their wait for an Afcon debut.
The English-born trio of Bordeaux’s Josh Maja, Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, and Reading’s Ovie Ejaria also miss out despite committing their international futures to the three-time African champions.
Despite these notable absences, the Super Eagles will still be expected to present a formidable challenge at the Afcon and make it to the competition’s latter stages.
Super Eagles absentee’s best XI:
(GK) Ezenwa; (RB) Ebuehi, (CB) Akpoguma, (CB) Ajayi, (LB) Bassey; (RW) Lookman, (CM) Etebo, (CM) Ejaria, (LW) Nwakaeme; (ST) Onuachu, (ST) Dessers.