It goes without saying the Super Eagles weren’t at their best in the double-header against Sierra Leone this month — well, except for a 30-minute spell at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
Gernot Rohr’s men not only surrendered a 4-0 lead in Benin but were mostly average in Freetown in the reverse fixture on Tuesday evening, albeit this was not helped by a pretty poor pitch.
With the dust still settling on the final games of 2020, Goal considers players currently not getting a look-in who could be integrated into the side for March’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho.
The forward hasn’t been part of Gernot Rohr’s squad since a dead rubber World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Constantine.
Since then, Nwakaeme has thrived in Turkey with Trabzonspor, scoring 24 times and setting up 17 goals in that time, with Black Sea Storm becoming Super Lig contenders in 2018/19 and especially last season.
While it looks like the 31-year-old will have it harder this season, he’s expected to be Eddie Newton’s main attacker as they look to steer clear of the relegation zone.
If Nwakaeme maintains his form, it’ll be odd to see someone consistently prolific overlooked yet again by the German manager.
With Samuel Chukwueze more or less the recognised dribbler in the side, some of Osayi-Samuel’s profile gives the West African nation another livewire winger.
Last year was the 22-year-old’s most prolific season and he was also one of the top dribblers in the Championship.
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Like Osayi, the attacking midfielder offers the X factor and is capable of playing in many attacking positions and even as a central midfielder in a three-man midfield.
However, Eze’s major strengths make him one of the finest budding playmakers and may well function behind a number nine.
While Alex Iwobi already functions in the potential attacking roles that Eze can be utilised in, the talent of the Crystal Palace man means having him on board brings with it a lot of merits.
While Azeez is no stranger to the national team, there was a dearth of options in the middle of the park in midfield in the games against Sierra Leone and a recall could be in the offing for the Granada player.
However, the expected return of Wilfred Ndidi and inactivity of Azeez in La Liga — he’s started one game so far in 20/21 — may count against him in March if his game-time doesn’t improve.
Still, a player whose reading of the game is admirable and presses fairly successfully. He can’t be ignored much longer.
Even though the ChievoVerona midfielder doesn’t play in the Italian top-flight, his fine form in appearances this season means he could be in line for a Nigeria return in the new year.
Obi hasn’t played for the Super Eagles since 2018 but has a chance of returning if his three appearances this season is anything to go by.
Even though one of those games saw him receive his marching orders after receiving two yellows, the 29-year-old was still one of his side’s better players on the day and returned to action with an impressive outing before the international break.
Indeed, the West African giants could be beneficiaries of Obi’s tenacity.