Nigeria AFCON 2023 squad reaction: Will key injuries cost Super Eagles glory?

We have given our Nigeria AFCON 2023 squad reaction as the Super Eagles aim to win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the fourth time in their history. Their first triumph was as hosts in 1980, followed by a win in 1994, and then most recently in 2013.

Latest Nigeria AFCON 2023 outright odds

Nigeria AFCON 2023 squad review

Full Nigeria AFCON 2023 squad

Goalkeepers

  • Stanley Nwabili
  • Francis Ozoho
  • Leke Ojo

Defenders

  • William Troost-Ekong
  • Bright Osayi-Samuel
  • Ola Aina
  • Zaidu Sanusi
  • Bruno Onyemaechi
  • Semi Ajayi
  • Calvin Bassey
  • Chidozie Awaziem
  • Kenneth Omeruo

Midfielders

  • Raphael Onyedika
  • Joe Aribo
  • Frank Onyeka
  • Alex Iwobi
  • Alhassan Yusuf

Strikers

  • Kelechi Iheanacho
  • Samuel Chukwueze
  • Moses Simon
  • Ademola Lookman
  • Victor Osimhen
  • Ahmed Musa
  • Sadiq Umar
Credit: Ulrik Pedersen – Photo by Icon sport

Surprise inclusions

Perhaps a surprise inclusion is Ahmed Musa, especially considering some of the attackers that have been left out. He has been a faithful servant to his country, with 16 goals in 108 senior caps, but has only played four times at club level this season. Indeed, he has only scored once and made no assists in 28 appearances for Turkish side Sivasspor, a poor record bettered by many attackers omitted.

Gift Orban is perhaps the biggest omission, with 32 goals in 51 appearances across the last two seasons for Belgium team Gent, while the likes of Terem Moffi and Nathan Tella could also be considered surprise omissions.

In-form players

Fulham duo Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi head into the tournament off the back of an impressive 2-1 win against Arsenal in the Premier League, while they also tasted two consecutive 5-0 victories at Craven Cottage at the start of December.

However, they will have to maintain that sort of form to make up for the absence of Victor Boniface. So impressive for Bayer Leverkusen, and sought after by a raft of high-profile clubs, he will be a a huge miss due to injury.

Ivory coast WC qualifiers
Photo by Icon sport

Tactical analysis

Nigeria's first group game will be against Equatorial Guinea on 14th January, before facing hosts Ivory Coast on 18th and then Guinea-Bissau on 22nd. The Super Eagles will aim to get off to the perfect start with three points against Equatorial Guinea, an opponent they would fancy to beat, given their superior FIFA ranking and AFCON history.

A win is crucial ahead of the second and toughest group game, against Ivory Coast. The hosts will fancy themselves against any opponent with the crowd behind them, and Nigeria just need to make sure they come away with something, and not falter under the pressure. A draw should be sufficient enough to put one foot in the knockouts.

They then would go into their final group game against Guinea-Bissau with little pressure, although Nigeria must be wary that they were the only team to take points off them in qualifying, beating them 1-0 in March. Nonetheless, due to superior FIFA ranking and AFCON history, the Super Eagles should still expect to beat Guinea-Bissau, in a result that should send them through to the latter stages.

Current odds

Nigeria are currently 10/1 to win AFCON, and 5/1 to reach the final. They are also 11/8 to win their group, and 1/10 to qualify from it.

Photo by Icon sport

Nigeria AFCON trivia

  1. Victor Osimhen was the top scorer in AFCON qualifying with 10 goals, including four in the 10-0 thrashing of Sao Tome and Principe, and a hat-trick in the 6-0 reverse fixture.
  2. Guinea-Bissau were the only team to take points off Nigeria in AFCON qualifying, and they face off again in the group stages!
  3. Nigeria's recent AFCON form has been poor – they have not qualified for three tournaments since 2012 (2012, 2015, 2017), and were knocked out in the round of 16 in 2021.
  4. Stephen Keshi is the only Nigerian to have won AFCON as a player and a coach, doing so in 1994 and 2013 respectively.
  5. Nwankwo Kanu is one of the most coveted names in Nigerian and African football – named African Footballer of the Year twice in 1996 and 1999 – but never won an AFCON!

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Adam Clancy

Adam is a lead writer on Football Whispers. He is a big Arsenal fan, and also follows his local club Wealdstone, made famous by The Wealdstone Raider, of whom he has interviewed. Adam also follows darts, boxing, cricket and tennis, among many other sports.