2026 World Cup race: Peseiro drops Osimhen, calls Boniface, Tella, Iheanacho, 20 others for Zimbabwe, Lesotho

2026 World Cup race: Peseiro drops Osimhen, calls Boniface, Tella, Iheanacho, 20 others for Zimbabwe, Lesotho

  • Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro has invited 23 players for Nigeria's first two matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

The roster made available through the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, comprised three goalkeepers, eight defenders, four central midfielders, and eight attackers.

Peseiro made good on his promise not to invite the duo of Italy-based Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze.

Osimhen was Nigeria's top goalscorer during the qualifying series of the Africa Cup of Nations, while Chukwueze is the national team's first-choice right winger. However, the Napoli forward and the AC Milan attackers suffered injuries during the last international break.

In place of Osimhen, Peseiro will rely on the finishing expertise of Taiwo Awoniyi, Terem Moffi, Victor Boniface, and Sadiq Umar.

In the absence of Chukwueze, Peseiro has also handed a first-time invite to Bayer Leverkusen forward, Nathan Tella.

Tella was born in England and was trained at Arsenal and Southampton, but the 24-year-old has never played for the Three Lions at any level, and he expressed his desire to feature for Nigeria last year.

In midfield, another injury setback ruled out Leicester City dynamo, Wilfred Ndidi. However, Frank Onyeka and Raphael Onyedika are capable replacements in the defensive midfield role.

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa and vice-captain William Troost-Ekong remain frozen out of Peseiro's plans. KAA Gent ace Jordan Torunarigha also did not make the cut after making his Super Eagles debut last time out.

In central defence, the Portuguese tactician prefers Semi Ajayi, Kenneth Omeruo, and Calvin Bassey.
Nottingham Forest's full-back Ola Aina returns to the national team field, while Cardiff City's Jamilu Collins gets his chance to impress after a lengthy injury layoff.

In goal, there is no Israel-based Adebayo Adeleye, with Peseiro settling for Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho. Enyimba's goalkeeper, Olorunleke Ojo is the only NPFL player in the 23-man squad.

The Super Eagles kick-start their race to the huge house party in the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada in 2026, with a clash against Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, next Thursday.

The three-time African champions will then fly to Rwanda to face Zimbabwe at the Huye Stadium in Butare on Sunday, 19th November.


Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Olorunleke Ojo (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Udinese Calcio, Italy).

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Nottingham Forest, England); Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista FC, Portugal); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista FC, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (Cardiff FC, Wales).

Midfielders: Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium); Joe Ayodele-Aribo (Southampton FC, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Fulham FC, England).

Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (Real Sociedad, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy); Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany); Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest, England); Terem Moffi (OGC Nice, France); Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany).

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