Okoye returns, Troost-Ekong dropped as Finidi names Super Eagles squad for South Africa, Benin WCQ

Super Eagles head coach Finidi George has named his squad for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin. The 53-year-old has retained a chunk of the squad that featured at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in Ivory Coast, and the last international break against Ghana and Mali.

George’s squad was announced in a statement released by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Friday, May 24, 2024. Nigeria will host Bafana Bafana in Uyo on 7 June before travelling to Ivory Coast to take on Benin at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium three days later. The squad is led by the reigning CAF Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman, who fired Alatanta to UEFA Europa League glory on Wednesday after scoring a hat-trick against Bayer Leverkusen in the final.

Some players who have been missing from the national roster are also back in the fold, with Maduka Okoye rewarded with a call-up following his impressive displays for Udinese in the Serie A. The German-born shot-stopper has taken the place of Francis Uzoho in the squad, with the Omonoia goalkeeper dropped for the first time in a long while. Stanley Nwabali, however, looks set to have the number one spot locked down after also being included in the squad.

Finidi George names Super Eagles squad for South Africa, Benin World Cup qualifiers
Super Eagles players- Photo by Icon Sport

Terem Moffi, who recently crossed the 50-goal mark in Ligue 1, also returns to the national team after being dropped for the March friendlies, while Victor Boniface is back in the squad since an injury in January ruled him out of the AFCON. One of the biggest omissions from the squad is captain William Troost-Ekong despite the PAOK defender recovering from injury. Nigeria’s midfield is also stacked, with Wilfred Ndidi, Raphael Onyedika and Alex Iwobi all present.

“Nigeria’s Head Coach, Finidi George, has picked rave-of-the-moment Ademola Lookman, African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen and safe hands Stanley Nwabali among a crop of 23 players who will do battle with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and the Cheetahs of Benin Republic in upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches,” a statement from the NFF said.

Two NPFL players make Super Eagles squad

Meanwhile, two players from the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) have been included in Finidi George’s maiden squad as the substantive head coach of the Super Eagles. The former Enyimba boss had promised to give equal opportunities to players irrespective of where they play and hasn’t reneged on that.

Enyimba’s Ojo Olorunleke is once again part of the squad after first being invited by Jose Peseiro earlier this year for the AFCON, and also making the squad for the friendlies in March against Ghana and Mali.

The other home-based player in the squad is Remo Stars’ Sadiq Ismael, who has been a standout performer in the Sky Blue Stars’ title charge. Benjamin Tanimu, who plays for Tanzanian giants Ihefu FC is another player who has been retained from the last squad.

Victor Osimhen included in Super Eagles squad despite fitness issues 

Finidi George has also included Victor Osimhen in his squad despite the Napoli striker currently battling an injury. The 25-year-old missed Napoli’s last league game against Empoli and his return date has not yet been confirmed.

While the former Lille sniper is facing a race against time to be fit for the World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin, he is part of a star-studded attacking unit picked by George. 

Meanwhile, Cyrel Dessers, who scored against Ghana in March and has been in sensational form for Rangers in the Scottish Premiership has been dropped from the squad. Samuel Chukwueze has, however, been picked among George’s forward options despite his faltering form and lack of game time at AC Milan in recent months.

Paul Onuachu has also been rewarded for his impressive form for Trabzonspor this season, having found the back of the net 17 times and provided four assists in the Turkish league. Should Osimhen not be able to prove his fitness, there is enough quality in the squad to make up for his absence, especially with Boniface back in the fold.

Super Eagles’ 23-man squad to face South Africa and Benin in World Cup Qualifiers 

Goalkeepers: 

Stanley Nwabali (Chippa United, South Africa)

Maduka Okoye (Udinese FC, Italy)

Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)

Defenders:                   

Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista FC, Portugal)

Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey)

Sadiq Ismael (Remo Stars FC)

Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England)

Benjamin Tanimu (Ihefu SC, Tanzania)

Midfielders: 

Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England)

Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium)

Alhassan Yusuf Abdullahi (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium)

Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England)

Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC, England)

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru (Hatayspor, Turkey)

Forwards: 

Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany)

Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy)

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy)

Paul Onuachu (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey)

Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy)

Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany)

Terem Moffi (OGC Nice, France)

Okoye returns, Troost-Ekong dropped as Finidi names Super Eagles squad for South Africa, Benin WCQ
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.