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Super Eagles Stand-in Captain Omeruo rues injury to first team players

Posted : 15 November 2023
The stand-in captain of the Super Eagles, Kenneth Omeruo, has lamented the absence of key players from the team, who are unavoidably sidelined due to injury.

It's worth noting that the Super Eagles will commence their 2026 FIFA World Cup campaign against the Crocodiles of Lesotho and Zimbabwe, with some notable players missing.

Nigeria is committed to making a strong start in the 2026 finals hosted by the USA, Mexico, and Canada. The senior players of the Super Eagles insist that they will not underestimate any of their opponents along the way.

The Eagles will face the Crocodiles of Lesotho in their first match of the 10-match series that spans the next 47 months. Team leader Kenneth Omeruo has revealed that the three-time African champions have decided to take the long campaign one match at a time.

“Most of us in the team still remember how painful it was not to be part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The memory lingers, but that is in the past. This is a fresh opportunity, and we all want to be part of the next one.

“There is always the temptation to overthink the campaign, but it is a long one, and we have opted to think and plan for only the match ahead of us.

On Thursday, we will play Lesotho. We remember them from our 2021 AFCON qualifiers. After the final whistle on Thursday, we can then start thinking about the next opponents.”

Nigeria will face Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, on Thursday from 5 pm, with three points at stake, and then travel to Butare in Rwanda to take on the Warriors of Zimbabwe in a Day 2 encounter on Sunday.

In their 2021 AFCON fixture, the Eagles won 4-2 in Maseru with significant contributions from Victor Osimhen, who scored two goals and assisted two. In the return match at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, in March 2021, Osimhen scored one and assisted one in the 3-0 defeat of the visitors, ensuring the Eagles finished the qualification series unbeaten.

However, Napoli SC striker Victor Osimhen will be absent when both teams meet at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Thursday evening due to injury.

“We have a number of players missing due to injury or some other circumstances; we have to deal with that.

"Those of us who are available must step up to the plate and do the job,” Omeruo added.

Winger Samuel Chukwueze, who scored a goal against the Crocodiles in the first clash in Maseru, is also out injured.

All 23 invited players have arrived at the Super Eagles’ Four Point By Sheraton Hotel in Uyo, and all trained at the training pitch of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Tuesday.

The Eagles and the Crocodiles (who arrived in Uyo on Tuesday morning after flying from Lagos) will take turns having official training at the match venue on Wednesday evening.

In the six-team Group C, the Eagles will host South Africa’s Bafana Bafana and then play away to Benin Republic in June 2024, before a run of six matches between March and October 2025 that will determine the winner and the team eligible from the pool to represent Africa in the USA, Canada, and Mexico in the summer of 2026.


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