Azubuike Okechukwu and Kelechi Nwakali have been named Nigeria U23 captain and vice-captain respectively.
Both players start in their roles on Wednesday afternoon as the Dream Team VII take on Libya in the first leg of an Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifier at the Ben Guerdane Stadium. The reverse fixture of the tie is set for Monday at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
Okechukwu and Nwakali are tested leaders in the national team fold. Four years ago, the former - then aged 18 - skippered another U23 side to Afcon victory, but had to rescind leadership to Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel at the 2016 Olympics games in Brazil - where he played a huge role to help Nigeria win bronze.
Meanwhile, Porto B’s Nwakali captained the Flying Eagles to U17 World Cup victory in 2015.
M A T C H DAY! Our U23 team battle host Libya at 3pm today in a U23 Afcon (first- leg) qualifier at the Ben Guerdane Stadium. Azubuike Okechukwu will captain the team.The team will don the deep green away jersey for the cracker. Good luck to them. #SoarDreamTeamVII #Team9jaStrong pic.twitter.com/rPrJOZp66p— The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) March 20, 2019
The new U23 team, overseen by Imama Amapakabo, is overwhelmed with exciting Nigerian talents plying their trade in the domestic league and abroad.
Villarreal sensation Samuel Chukwueze, Manchester United academy graduate Tosin Kehinde, on-loan Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi, Lobi Stars left-back Ebube Duru and Club Brugge attacker Denis Bonaventure are part of the 23-man set-up.
Goalkeepers: Olawale Oremade (Kwara Utd), Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourist), Mohammed Galadima (Nasarawa United)
Defenders: Joshua Akpudje (MFMFC), Ugochukwu Anumudu (Lobi Stars, Makurdi), Oluwadamilare Olatunji (Enyimba FC), Stephen Egbe (Enyimba FC), Adebayo Ojo (Brookes FC, UK) John Lazarus (Lobi Stars, Makurdi) Etiboy Akpan (Akwa United) , Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars, Makurdi)
Midfielders: Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto B, Portugal), Azubuike Okechukwu (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey), Orji Okonkwo (Impact Montreal, Canada), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain), Tosin Kehinde (CD Feirense, Portugal), Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars FC)
Forwards: David Okereke (Spezia FC Italy), Chidera Ezeh (Portimonense FC, Portugal), Taiwo Awoniyi (Royal Mouscron, Belgium), Muyiwa Olabiran (