AFCON 2023: Nigeria name Musa, Osimhen in 25-man squad for Cote D’Ivoire 2024

The Super Eagles will begin their final preparation for the Cote d’Ivoire 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in Abu Dhabi, UAE…on January 2, 2024. Photograph: The Telegraph

Super Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa and his assistant, William Troost-Ekong, are in a 25-man squad announced yesterday by Coach Jose Peseiro for next month’s African Cup of Nations holding in Cote d’Ivoire.

Musa and Ekong had been absent in Nigeria’s recent matches, fueling rumour that they could miss the Nations Cup in Cote d’Ivoire. But
Peseiro chose to settle for most of the players he has worked with since taking over the team last year.

In the squad are three goalkeepers, nine defenders, five midfielders and eight forwards, including South Africa-based goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabili, who will challenge Francis Uzoho and Enyimba’s Olorunleke Ojo for the number one position.

Kenneth Omeruo and Musa are the only players from the team that won the AFCON in 2013 in the current squad. Omeruo, Ekong, Olaoluwa Aina, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, Calvin Bassey, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Bruno Onyemaechi are the defenders in the squad, while Wilfred Ndidi, who missed the World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe leads the midfielders in the squad. He is joined by Alex Iwobi, Raphael Onyedika, Joe Ayodele-Aribo and Frank Onyeka.

Africa Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen, Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Boniface, Sadiq Umar and Ademola Lookman are the attackers in the squad.

According to the NFF, the 25 players will depart from their different bases on January 2 for Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates, for a one-week training camp that will last until January 9.

The team will fly back to Lagos on January 9 and then fly into the Ivorian capital, Abidjan on January 10. The Super Eagles, in their quest for a fourth continental title, will take on Equatorial Guinea on January 14 in their first match of Group A, before further clashes with host nation Cote d’Ivoire (January 18) and Guinea Bissau (January 22).

Nigeria, who will be participating in the Africa Cup of Nations for the 20th time, were champions as hosts in 1980, triumphant in Tunisia in 1994 and crowned winners in South Africa in 2013.

When Cote d’Ivoire hosted the finals in 1984, a young Nigerian squad led by the inimitable Stephen Keshi went all the way to the final, before losing to much-experienced Indomitable Lions of Cameroun in a memorable final at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.

According to an NFF source, the federation earlier planned to take the players together to Abu Dhabi, but their different programmes prompted the federation to make separate travelling arrangements for them.

“Some of the players are already in Nigeria for the Christmas celebrations, while those in the United Kingdom are still involved in their clubs’ league games. The NFF has given them their flight tickets ahead of their movement to UAE.

“Those in the UK are expected to fly directly from their London to UAE, while those already in Nigeria will leave with the NFF party to the camp. We have an advanced party that will leave to wait for others anytime from now,” the source said.

The Guardian also learnt that the clothing measurements of the chosen players have been taken by those arranging ceremonial wears for the team.
Among the players already in Nigeria are Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Boniface and Moses Simon.