Eagles in Buoyant Mood Ahead Clash with Crocodiles of Lesotho 

Duro Ikhazuagbe

All 23 invited players have arrived at the Super Eagles’ Four Point By Sheraton Hotel in Uyo ahead of Thursday’s  2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Crocodiles of Lesotho and then fly out to Butare in Rwanda to take on the Warriors of Zimbabwe in a Match-day 2 encounter on Sunday.

The encounter against Lesotho will kick off at 5pm on Thursday.

With the arrival of the final batch of 11 players yesterday, Super Eagles had a light work out yesterday evening at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium and are expected to train behind locked gates today to perfect their game-plan against the visitors.

Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman, Taiwo Awoniyi, Ola Aina, Alex Iwobi, Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Joe Aribo and Bright Osayi Samuel were some of the last batch of players received at the Victor Attah International Airport by members of the Akwa Ibom State Football Normalization Committee and taken to the team’s camp at Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene.

Bendel Insurance goalkeeper, Amas Obasogie who was drafted in last minute to replace Maduka Okoye was amongst the last sets of players in camp.

The longest serving member of the current Super Eagles, Kenneth Omeruo told NFF TV yesterday that the three-time African champions have held a meeting where it was decided to take the long campaign one-match-at-a-time.

“Most of us in the team still remember how painful it was not to be part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The memory lingers but then, that is gone. This is a fresh opportunity and we all want to be at the next one.

“There is always the temptation to over-think how to process the campaign, but it is a long one and we have opted to think and plan for only the match ahead of us. On Thursday, we will play Lesotho. We remember them from our 2021 AFCON qualifiers. After the final whistle on Thursday, we can then start thinking about the next opponents,” stressed the Kasimpasa FC of Turkey defender.

He admitted that even in the face of several key players missing from the squad due to injuries, Eagles will step up the ante to win champions convincingly.

“We have a number of players missing due to injury or some other circumstance; we have to deal with that. Those of us who are available must step up to the plate and do the job,” Omeruo added. 

Apart from talisman of the team, Victor Osimhen who is down with injury, Winger Samuel Chukwueze, who got a goal against the Crocodiles in their first clash in Maseru, is also out injured. Wilfred Ndidi, Bruno Onyemaechi and Zaidu Sanusi are the latest to also miss the trip to Uyo for the kick off of Nigeria’s dream to play at the 2026 Mundial. 

In the six-team Group C, the Eagles will host South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and then play away to Benin Republic in June 2024, before a run of six matches between March and October 2025 that will determine the winner, and the team eligible from the pool to fly Africa’s flag in USA, Canada and Mexico in the summer of 2026. 

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