The next great Super Eagles: Introducing 4 players poised for Nigeria stardom


Nigeria’s provisional list for the just-concluded Africa Cup of Nations had some very interesting names on the 40-man Super Eagles list.

Even though only 25 eventually made it to the Ivory Coast as Nigeria lost in the final to the host, it showed a peek at the talent pool available for the Super Eagles.

It also gave a hint of what to expect in the future because, at the end of every tournament, which is usually a cycle for a lot of national sides, new names pop up to stake a claim for a place in the national squad.

Out of the 28 players that went to the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, only half made it to the Ivory Coast, albeit injuries accounted for the loss of the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi, Wilfred Ndidi, and Sadiq Umar.

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Photo by Icon Sport

Among the 25-man Super Eagles squad for the 2024 AFCON, six players – Raphael Onyedika, Ademola Lookman, Stanley Nwabali, Bruno Onyeamachi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Alhassan Yusuf all made their Nigeria debut post-Cameroon 2022.

In that same vein, one is tempted to ask, who are the players waiting in the wing to stake a claim for a spot in the Super Eagles squad as the World Cup qualifiers, AFCON qualifiers, and the 2025 AFCON in Morocco are on the horizon?

It is early days but we have identified players who have a decent shot for a Super Eagles debut in the coming months.

Four new Super Eagles to watch

Jerome Adams

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Jerome Akor Adams – Photo by Icon Sport

Adams has been long touted to be the next ‘Yakubu Aiyegbeni' because of their similar physical attributes and finishing prowess.

After setting the Norwegian top flight alight with goals for Lillestrom, he made a 4.5 million Euros move to French side Montpellier where he's netted nine goals in 22 matches in all competitions.

The 24-year-old, who played for Nigeria at the FIFA U20 World in Poland in 2019, is a good header of the ball and is also adept at holding up play.

Quite pacy for his size, it is only a matter of time before he breaks into the Super Eagles set-up

Gift Orban

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Gift Orban – Photo by Icon Sport

Administrative issues militated against his being capped for the Super Eagles and he was called up for the AFCON 2023 qualifier against Sao Tome. Togo has laid claim to the Lyon forward but he's expressed interest to wear the green-white-green of Nigeria.

Orban came into the fore at Norwegian side Stabaek, where he banged 22 goals in 27 games in goals and helped them gain promotion to the Eliteserien before securing a move to Belgium with KAA Gent in a record move for any player coming from the Norwegian second division.

The striker exploded at Gent, hitting a couple of hattricks in the league and the Europa Conference League, which caught the attention of a lot of clubs.

He eventually made a 12 million Euros January move to French side Olympique Lyon and has already notched up a goal.

Orban is crafty and can create spaces for himself to get between defenders and score. With a low centre of gravity, it is difficult to get him off the ball.

The 21-year-old is also blessed with pace, and he can also play from the wings with great effect. He is probably the only ‘small' type forward Nigeria has at the moment as the likes of Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi, and Taiwo Awoniyi are big and burly.

Igoh Ogbu

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Photo by Icon Sport

One of the best young defenders in the world who currently plies his trade with Czech side Slavia Prague.

Ogbu represented Nigeria at the FIFA U20 World Cup and shone like a million stars.

His heroics in the Norwegian league earned him a move to Slavia, where his stock has continued to rise, playing in the Czech top-flight league and the Europa League.

Ogbu is built like a tank and quite effective in the tackle and good aerially and has been one of the best defenders this season in the Czech First League.

He was projected on the standby list for the Super Eagles World Cup qualifier against Lesotho. Still, he eventually didn't get to camp, the same as the international friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.

Touted in many quarters as the best young Nigerian defender abroad, Ogbu has great positional awareness and marking abilities, as he showed in Slavia's Europa League campaign last term.

Onuche Ogbelu

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Photo by Icon Sport

When the Nigeria roster was announced for the FIFA U20 World Cup was announced and his name was missing, there was an uproar in the Nigerian media space because of his obvious talent.

Months prior, the 20-year-old had helped Nigeria qualify for the tournament at the U20 Africaa Cup of Nations as the Flying Eagles came third.

He has put that disappointment aside to sign for top Tunisian side Esperance Tunis, where he broke into the first team playing in the Tunisian Ligue 1 and the CAF Champions League barely weeks after joining them.

Ogbelu, who is highly fancied by Jose Peseiro, is a modern-day multi-lateral defender who plays from box to box and has an eye for interceptions alongside good tackling.

Surely, it is only a matter of time before he gets his first full debut for the Super Eagles in the coming months if he keeps his current form.

The next great Super Eagles: Introducing 4 players poised for Nigeria stardom
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.