Super Eagles defender recovers in time for crucial World Cup qualifiers

Boavista defender Bruno Onyemaechi is once again in the running to be included in the Super Eagles squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, having recovered from a left knee injury.

The Super Eagles will face South Africa and Benin in must-win encounters, having failed to win either of their first two games in the qualifiers.

The left-back made a surprising return to Boavista's starting lineup in their 2-2 draw against FC Vizela on Saturday evening.

Onyemaechi played for 69 minutes at the Estádio do Bessa Século XXI before being substituted for Masa. This match marked his comeback and reaffirmed his readiness to contribute both at club and international levels.

Super Eagles defender Bruno Onyemaechi
Photo by Icon Sport

In August 2022, Onyemaechi joined Boavista on a season-long loan with an option to buy. In June 2023, Boavista exercised this option, signing him on a permanent deal.

Onyemaechi's timely return boosts injury-hit Super Eagles ahead of crucial qualifiers

His return from injury is welcome news for Super Eagles coach Finidi George, who is currently dealing with several key players being sidelined.

With Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Empoli full-back Tyronne Ebuehi, Nantes winger Moses Simon, and Porto left-back Zaidu Sanusi all injured and unlikely to be available for selection, Onyemaechi's recovery is particularly timely.

By a quirk of fate, Paul Onuachu and Bright-Osayi-Samuel have also recovered from their respective injuries and will be available for selection.

Nigeria urgently need to secure points in June after a disappointing start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Super Eagles have drawn their first two matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe, placing them third in Group C.

The team narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a heartbreaking playoff loss to Ghana.

Super Eagles defender Bruno Onyemaechi
Photo by Icon Sport

They are determined to avoid a similar outcome and secure their spot in the 2026 tournament in North America.

Onyemaechi earned his first international cap for Nigeria, featuring as a left-back for the entire 90 minutes in a 6-0 win against São Tomé and Príncipe, during the last group match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. He has so far earned three caps for the Super Eagles.

How Onyemaechi will benefit the Super Eagles

Onyemaechi, who ended the 2023/24 season with 26 appearances across all competitions, has recovered from a left knee injury just in time to bolster Nigeria's defence.

His ability to play a key role in both defence and attack makes him a versatile asset for the Super Eagles.

As Nigeria aim to secure their place in the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America, Onyemaechi's presence will be invaluable in helping the team navigate the challenges ahead and achieve their qualification goals.

With his proven track record and versatility, the Boavista player could provide cover for established full-backs Ola Aina and Bright Osayi-Samuel, who will likely lead Nigeria's defence in the upcoming qualifiers.

As the Super Eagles aim to avoid a repeat of their previous qualifying campaign setback, Onyemaechi's return to full fitness is seen as a key factor in the team's success moving forward.

When will Nigeria play South Africa and Benin?

The Super Eagles are gearing up for crucial World Cup qualifiers, beginning with a home match against Bafana Bafana on 7 June, at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo. Following this, they will travel to Ivory Coast to face The Cheetahs of Benin at the Stade Félix-Houphouët-Boigny on 10 June.

Nigeria currently sit in third place in their qualifying group, with two points from their first two matches. Rwanda lead the group with four points, followed closely by South Africa with three points.

The upcoming fixtures against South Africa and Benin present an opportunity for the Super Eagles to climb the standings and strengthen their bid to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.