Kenneth Igboke: Who is NPFL youngster set to replace Osimhen in Finidi’s WCQ squad?

Nigeria's quest for a successful World Cup qualification campaign has been dealt a significant blow with the news of star striker Victor Osimhen's injury, sidelining him for crucial matches against South Africa and Benin next month.

The Nigeria Football Federation confirmed on Tuesday that Osimhen will be absent for four weeks due to an undisclosed injury, leaving a void in the Super Eagles' attacking lineup.

Kenneth Igboke

In response to Osimhen's absence, Super Eagles coach Finidi George has opted to call up Rangers International's left-back sensation Kenneth Igboke as a replacement.

Igboke will be the third player from the Nigeria Premier League invited to the squad after Leke Ojo (Enyimba) and Ismail Sodiq (Remo Stars).

Introducing Kenneth Igboke

At just 19 years old, Kenneth Igboke has emerged as a rising star in Nigerian football. Hailing from Nsukka, Enugu State, Igboke's journey to the national team is a testament to his talent and dedication.

Having caught the eye of Rangers' scouts while playing street football, Igboke has swiftly risen through the ranks to establish himself as a key player for the seven-time league champions.

Igboke's prowess as an attacking left-back has been on full display this season, with standout performances and crucial goals contributing to Rangers' success.

His ability to deliver precision crosses and solidify the defence has made him a fan favorite and a vital asset for both club and country.

Super Eagles' qualification challenge

The road to the World Cup has been fraught with challenges for the Super Eagles, starting with a disappointing draw against Lesotho under former coach Jose Peseiro.

Despite dominating the match, Nigeria had to settle for a 1-1 draw, showcasing the team's struggle to convert chances into goals.

A similar narrative unfolded in the following match against Zimbabwe, where Nigeria once again had to claw back from behind to secure a point.

Nigeria's all-time highest goal scorer: Victor Osimhen
Photo by Icon Sport

Even with their offensive prowess, the Super Eagles have faced difficulties in breaking down resilient defenses, highlighting the need for strategic adjustments.

As Nigeria prepare to face South Africa and Benin in upcoming qualifiers, securing positive results becomes imperative to bolster their position in Group C.

With Kenneth Igboke's inclusion and a squad boasting a blend of experience and emerging talent, the Super Eagles aim to overcome adversity and reignite their campaign for World Cup qualification against South Africa and Benin next month.

Expanded squad for the challenges ahead

Coach Finidi George has assembled a strong squad, featuring a mix of seasoned players like Wilfred Ndidi, Samuel Chukwueze and the in-form Ademola Lookman.

The roster includes established names such as Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface and Alex Iwobi, providing leadership and experience on the field.

In addition to Igboke's call-up, the defensive lineup sees reinforcements with the inclusion of Calvin Bassey and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi aiming to shore up the backline.

7 biggest misses in Finidi's Super Eagles squad
Super Eagles players- Photo by Icon Sport

With a talented midfield and potent attacking options, the Super Eagles are poised to face the upcoming challenges with confidence and determination.

As Nigeria gear up for critical clashes against South Africa and Benin, the Super Eagles know there will no room for complacency as any dropped points will put a huge dent on their quest for qualification.

Nigeria failed to qualify for the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar after elimination by Ghana at the final hurdle.

Updated squad list 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)

Sodiq Ismail (Remo Stars FC)

Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England)

Benjamin Tanimu (Ihefu SC, Tanzania)

Kenenth Igboke (Rangers International)

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)

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)

Kenneth Igboke: Who is NPFL youngster set to replace Osimhen in Finidi’s WCQ squad?
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)