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Qatar 2022: UK-based stars missing as Super Eagles land in Cape Verde

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles pose for pictures before a recent international. The team has arrived in Cape Verde for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The Super Eagles’ have arrived in Cape Verde for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying fixture against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde, but will be without its UK-based stars. The game comes up at 4PM local time or 2PM Nigerian time.

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The team landed on the island of Mindelo on Monday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a chartered Air Peace airline.

There were 21 players on board, following the departure of UK-based players who returned to base following the unchanged stance of UK authorities concerning protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to the country after visiting a country on their COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Tuesday’s encounter, billed to take place at the 5,000 capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of players not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigeria squad.

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The absence of Ola Aina, William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy-based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of Portugal’s FC Boavista and Spain-based Kenneth Omeruo will most likely start against the Blue Sharks on Tuesday evening.

The departures of two-goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to empanel entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

As Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo have all returned to the UK, Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu in midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia-based Chidera Ejuke, Italy-based former junior international Kingsley Michael and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are all available.

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Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first against Madagascar on September 5, 2010 in Calabar, if he takes any part in Tuesday’s encounter.

He will be the third Super Eagles player to reach the 100-cap landmark after former captains Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo.Musa, who was just 17 at the time he made his debut in that 2-0 win over Madagascar at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, has since gone on to score 17 goals for Nigeria but has failed to find the back of the net in his last 21 appearances for Nigeria.

The Fatih Karagumruk of Turkey forward last scored for Nigeria in the 3-2 win over Libya on October 16, 2018 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played in the Tunisian city of Sfax.

Three points on Tuesday will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star are victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three-time African champions to the knockout final round, given that the home and away fixtures against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

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SUPER EAGLES IN CAPE VERDE

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy);

Midfielders: Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy); Adekunele Adeleke (Abia Warriors);

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece)


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