Nigeria coach Gernat Rohr announced his 24-man squad for the 2022 AFCON qualifiers.

The side includes current Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa who has, unfortunately, been without a club after leaving Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr FC in October. 

There was a lot of debate and talk surrounding Nigeria’s captain and whether he deserved a call-up given that he is not playing for any club at the moment but Rohr backed his team captain.

This came as a shock to many as the coach went against his own words after previously saying that only players who actively compete in the top flight of football, would be involved in the squad.

Musa has not played competitive football for 5 months now so this was extremely surprising. The 28-year old has kept his place in the squad and his captaincy.

Gernat Rohr Nigeria

Gernat Rohr will be hoping to lead Nigeria to AFCON success. (Photo by Omar Zoheiry/picture alliance via Getty Images)

“Musa has been keeping fit and we hope he can find a club soon,” Rohr said in February.

There was apparent interest from English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion as manager Sam Allardyce had mentioned but that did not materialize.

A lot of players have been called-up among those who play their football in the Barclays Premier League including Ola Aina from Fulham, Leicester City’s duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, Everton’s Alex Iwobi and West Brom’s Semi Ajayi.

Sadiq Umar has been given his first call-up for his country given his stellar form for Almeria in Spain’s Segunda (second division).

A name that was not included in the main list was the Belgian league’s top scorer Paul Onuachu who has 25 goals already this season. He is on the standby list along with veteran goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.

Enyimba’s number 1 John Noble is the only selection in Nigeria’s team from the domestic league.

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers won the Scottish League so it is no surprise to see Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun getting called-up for international duty. Rangers went undefeated in the league this season.

The Super Eagles can secure automatic qualification by beating Benin on 27th March. They then travel back home to Lagos to face Lesotho on the 30th in the last game of the 2022 AFCON qualifiers group stage.

Three-time continental champions Nigeria currently are on top of Group L with 8 points, just 1 ahead of Benin while Sierra Leone have 3 points and Lesotho 2.

Here is Nigeria’s 24-man squad for the last 2 group stage games.

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista, Portugal); William Troost-Ekong (Watford, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn, Germany); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosa, Cyprus); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Free Agent); Alex Iwobi (Everton, England); Sadiq Umar (Almeria, Spain); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Moses Simon (Nantes, France)

Standby: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray, Turkey); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Terem Moffi (Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Michael Olise (Reading, England); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors)