AFCON Qualifiers 2023: Super Eagles’ Potential Starting XI Against Sierra Leone

AFCON Qualifiers 2023: Super Eagles’ Potential Starting XI Against Sierra Leone
Credit: Iconsport

The reverse fixture of the Sierra Leone versus Nigeria tie in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers 2023 is a few days away. The invited players, a squad comprised of four home-based players and 19 players from various leagues in Europe are beginning to hit the camp in Lagos before they move to Liberia, where the tie will be played.

All the players have had varying seasons and are hoping to get a starting berth on the day of the match. There are a few players who are untouchable but José Peseiro has proven to be unpredictable with the rest of his selection.

AFCON Qualifiers 2023: Returnees and absentees from the last squad list

The biggest omission is OGC Nice striker and nominee for UEFA European Conference League goal of the season Terem Moffi, who was replaced by Nottingham Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi.

Both strikers had great seasons for their clubs but Awoniyi’s season was more significant as he scored vital goals and put in great performances to help his club battle relegation successfully in the 2022/23 Premier League season. Nigerians are miffed about Moffi’s omission but will have to trust that Peseiro knows what he is doing.

In defence, Kevin Akpoguma continues to replace Leon Balogun who many in the Nigeria football news media believe will be calling time on his national team career soon. Victor Osimhen keeps his place in attack, as does Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman.

Nigeria Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa also keeps his place despite lesser playing time than most of the eligible attackers. His inclusion takes away Gift Orban's long-awaited debut and Nigerians are not too pleased about it.

The exclusion of Raphael Onyedika has also raised a few eyebrows among the fanbase. The midfielder has played a key role for Belgian Jupiler Pro League side Club Brugge this season and is barely able to make it into the national team.

Bruno Onyemaechi also misses out on the squad list this time around as he continues to wait for his first Super Eagles cap. Under-20 internationals Daniel Bameyi and Kingsley Aniagboso were also dropped in favour of players with first team experience.

Predicted XI for Sierra Leone AFCON Qualifier

José Peseiro will go with his favoured 4-4-2 formation which makes use of Nigeria's talent in attack while providing adequate midfield cover for the defence. He has also deployed the 4-4-1-1 formation on occasion but it is unlikely he will do that this time thanks to the inclusion of Taiwo Awoniyi.

Francis Uzoho misses out due to suspension but his replacement, Adebayo Adeleye is likely to start in his place. He is a goalkeeper that is highly rated in the Nigeria football media space and he is likely to get his first cap on his debut call-up. Osimhen and Awoniyi will start upfront and they will be flanked by Lookman and Chukwueze. Here is the full predicted XI for the battle against the Leone Stars:




Bassey, Akpoguma, Troost-Ekong, Sanusi


Chukwueze, Ndidi, Iwobi, Lookman


Osimhen, Awoniyi

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 year ago

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