Red-hot Lookman still a doubt for Bafana showdown as NFF airlift 5 stranded Super Eagles into Uyo

The Nigerian national team camp has received a significant boost with the arrival of five players who were previously stuck in different parts of the country due to a nationwide labour union strike.

Defenders Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Calvin Bassey, along with midfielder Frank Onyeka and forward Paul Onuachu, all touched down in Uyo on Tuesday aboard a private jet arranged by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). This brings the total number of players in camp to 20, just three days before their crucial qualifying match against South Africa.

However, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the participation of forward Ademola Lookman, whose availability for the upcoming clash remains unclear.

Lookman on fire

Lookman has been inspired this season, racking up a combined 27 goals and assists for Atalanta, and announcing himself on the world stage with a dominant performance in the UEFA Europa League final.

Red-hot Lookman still a doubt for Bafana showdown as NFF airlift 5 stranded Super Eagles into Uyo
Photo by Icon Sport

This impressive form has translated to international level. The 26-year-old was a vital cog in Nigeria's run at the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), earning a spot in the Team of the Tournament. He showcased his talent by scoring three goals and assisting two more to propel the Super Eagles to the final.

Lookman's absence would be a significant blow to the Nigerian attack.

Super Eagles vs South Africa: The stakes

The upcoming encounter against South Africa holds immense importance for both teams. The clash will take place at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Friday. A victory for Nigeria would be a major step towards resurrecting their bid to secure qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Red-hot Lookman still a doubt for Bafana showdown as NFF airlift 5 stranded Super Eagles into Uyo
Photo by Icon Sport

The arrival of the five previously stranded players has undoubtedly lifted spirits in the Nigerian camp. However, the uncertainty surrounding Lookman' is concern. The coming hours will reveal whether the Atalanta talisman can join his teammates.

The Super Eagles officially opened camp at the weekend and have been training at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo. Only 15 players, however, participated in Monday’s training session, which was supervised by head coach Finidi George and his newly-assembled technical team.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.