NLC strike: What is Super Eagles’ best XI vs South Africa without stranded 8

Nigeria’s preparations for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers have been disrupted following a delay in the arrival of some players due to an ongoing strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

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.

The remaining eight have so far not been able to report to camp due to an ongoing strike by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over the new minimum wage and electricity tariff hikes in the country.

NLC strike: What is Super Eagles' best XI vs South Africa without stranded 8
Photo by Icon Sport

This has affected critical services across the country, with schools and hospitals closed down. Power supply has also been lacking in some cities after the national electricity grid was shut down. Domestic flights in the country have stalled too, which has made it difficult for the Super Eagles players who are not yet in camp to join their colleagues.

The 8 Super Eagles players who are stranded due to NLC strike

The eight players whose travel plans have been disrupted by the NLC and TUC strike include goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, who ended the season on a high after helping Udinese survive relegation in the Serie A.

West Bromwich Albion defender Semi Ajayi and Fenerbahce’s Bright Osayi-Samuel are also among the players who are facing flight problems, while Brentford midfielder Frank Onyeka and Fulham star Alex Iwobi aren’t exempted either.

Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman, who finished the season with 17 goals and 10 assists, and Trabzonspor’s Paul Onuachu are the remaining players who are yet to join the Super Eagles camp due to the nationwide strike.

The unavailability of the aforementioned players poses a challenge to Finidi, who has just a few more training sessions with the squad before selecting his starting line-up for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against South Africa.

Super Eagles’ best XI vs South Africa without stranded 8

Nigeria will play two qualifying matches in the next seven days, with an away clash against Benin Republic also scheduled for 10 June. Finidi’s immediate attention is, however, on the home game against Bafana Bafana in Uyo.

But with eight players still yet to report to camp, the 53-year-old has the difficult task of planning his line-up without them. Okoye’s form meant he would have given Stanley Nwabali a run for his money but should he fail to make it to camp in time, then it would be prudent to keep the Chippa United shot-stopper between the sticks.

The absence of Ola Aina also would’ve seen Osayi-Samuel deputise at right-back, but Finidi could be forced to switch to a back-three, especially with no experienced left back in the squad. In midfield, Wilfred Ndidi, Yusuf Alhassan and Raphael Onyedika would likely get the nod in the absence of Alex Iwobi and Frank Onyeka.

While a potential Lookman absence would be a huge blow, Finidi still has the luxury of fielding a front three of Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface and Terem Moffi.

Here’s how the Super Eagles could line up without the eight stranded players (3-4-3):

Goalkeeper: Stanley Nwabali

Defenders: Benjamin Tanimu, Chidozie Awaziem, Kenneth Igboke

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi, Raphael Onyedika, Alhassan Yusuf, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru

Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface, Terem Moffi

NLC strike: What is Super Eagles’ best XI vs South Africa without stranded 8
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is a Ghanaian 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 Pulse Ghana, The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.