As Nigeria’s first AFCON fixture against Egypt draws nigh, we check in on the form of the Super Eagles players set to represent the country in Cameroon.
Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs)
Before joining his Super Eagles teammates in camp, Akpeyi’s Kaizer Chiefs occupied the fourth position in the DSTV Premiership. In 12 appearances for Chiefs this season, Akpeyi has conceded just seven goals, keeping five clean sheets in turn. Perhaps it is for this reason Chiefs have, after 16 league games, the third-tightest defence this season.
Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia)
Unlike first-team first-choice goalkeepers Okoye and Akpeyi, Uzoho has been offered a more rotational role at AC Omonia Nicosia. The 23-year old has had only six chances (of 15 league games) in goal in the league, managing two clean sheets and conceding 11. However, in the UEFA Conference League, Uzoho has been a preferred choice over Omonia’s 33-year-old first-choice keeper Fabinho, manning the goal in four of Omonia’s six group games.
Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam)
Nigeria’s preferred number 1 is the starting goalkeeper for his club in the Eredivisie. Of 18 league fixtures, Okoye has been in goal 16 times, keeping only one clean sheet. That lone clean sheet this season came in Sparta Rotterdam’s KNVB Cup First Round 2-0 win over GVVV.
Maduka Okoye in goal for Sparta Rottedam (IMAGO / Pro Shots)
John Noble (Enyimba)
Noble who was a shining light for Enyimba in previous seasons, is yet to feature in a single game (of eight) in all competitions this season, and has not played a competitive match in roughly six months.
Semi Ajayi (West Brom)
Ajayi moved from being a starter to being a rotational player for West Brom this season. The centre-back first featured in West Brom’s 3-2 win over Luton on game week 2 of the Championship, and racked up 13 more games before returning to the bench.
William Troost-Ekong (Watford)
Nigeria’s vice-captain Ekong has been key for Watford in the Premier League this season, starting in 16 of the Hornets 21 Premier League games, as well as their EFL Cup Second Round 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
William Troost-Ekong (left) (IMAGO / Sportimage)
Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor)
A regular for Alanyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig this season, Awaziem has been on the pitch for all ninety minutes 11 times he has played, scoring on one occasion.
Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes)
Playing in Spain’s Segunda Division, Omeruo has featured in 11 games across two competitions – the league and the Copa del Rey. He scored his first goal of the season in Leganes’ 2-0 win over Malaga in mid-December.
Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates)
While Olisa Ndah might not have featured in any of the CAF Confederation Cup games for Pirates, the former NPFL champion has started 13 times in central defence for the South African Premiership giants. Of the 13 times he’s played, he’s helped his team to six clean sheets.
Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto)
Zaidu Sanusi (IMAGO / Just Pictures)
Ten Portuguese Liga appearances, six UEFA Champions League features and three in the Portuguese Cup mean Zaidu Sanusi has played in 19 games for Porto this season. Asides from the 5 clean sheets he’s amassed in the league, he also boasts of a goal.
Jamilu Collins (Paderborn 07)
Collins has played 14 times for Bundesliga 2 side Paderborn in the league, scoring twice. He has also featured once in the DFB Pokal.
Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia)
Playing for Venezia’s starting XI hasn’t come easy for Ebuehi, who has had his game time partly truncated due to injury. But asides from that, he featured 12 times in Serie A and once in the Italian cup.
Ola Aina (Torino)
Ola Aina (IMAGO / Marco Canoniero)
A regular for Serie A side Torino this season, Aina has been deployed at left midfield, right midfield and left-back in the 16 matches he has played for the Italian club in the league.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)
An integral part of the Foxes’ system this season, Ndidi has coordinated Leicester’s deep midfield on 18 occasions across all competitions. On two other occasions, he has been deployed as a centre back, both times incidentally against Liverpool, with Leicester winning in the Premier League but losing out to on penalties in the EFL cup.
Frank Onyeka (Brentford)
Onyeka has featured in all but two games for Brentford this season. His performative displays in central midfield have helped the Premier League club to nine wins in 21 games across all competitions.
Joe Aribo (Rangers)
Aribo has featured as an attacking midfielder, a central midfielder, a right-winger and a right midfielder for Rangers this season. He has been one of their most prolific regulars, scoring six times and assisting on four occasions in 20 Scottish Premier League games. He also played in all of Rangers’ Europa League Group Stage fixtures.
Joe Aribo (Rangers)
Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca)
Nwakali has failed to convert any of his time on the pitch into goals or assists for Huesca in the Spanish Segunda Division this season. He has featured in 21 games across all competitions.
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
Iwobi has struggled at Everton this season, unable to make a strong claim on his place in the starting XI. The midfielder has played all 90 minutes just once in the 13 Premier League games he has featured in for Everton. He, however, boasts a goal and an assist in the league.
Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow)
Ejuke’s time in the Russian Premier Liga has produced four goals and three assists for CSKA, a seven-goal contribution that has helped his side climb to fourth in the league after 18 games.
Moses Simon (Nantes)
Nigerian Moses Simon celebrates his dramatic Ligue 1 winner for Nantes against Lens.
Simon has played in all but one of Nantes’ Ligue 1 fixtures this season. The left winger has scored twice in the league and laid on six more, a goal-creation tally bettered by only three players in the French top-flight.
Henry Onyekuru (Olympiakos)
Despite Olympiakos recording 10 victories in the 11 league games Onyekuru has featured in this season, the winger has had quite a subpar season, failing to score in any of them. His only goal this season came in the qualifying stages of the Europa League. In simpler terms: one goal (and an assist) for the forward so far in 21 games in all competitions.
Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague)
An ankle injury at the start of the Czech season almost hampered Olayinka’s spot in Slavia’s starting XI, but the striker returned with a bang, scoring three times in his first four league matches post-injury. He has so far amassed four goals and two assists in 12 league games, and scored once in the Europa League for Slavia as well as once in the Cup.
Peter Olayinka (IMAGO / CTK Photo)
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)
Despite being a rotational player following his return from a hamstring injury, Chukwueze has put up impressive performances for Villarreal in the La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League this season. His five-goal tally in 17 appearances in all competitions includes goals against Barcelona and Real Sociedad.
Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk)
Musa has moved from being a key player for Fatih Karagumruk to a rotational one. Nevertheless, he has featured in 17 of their 20 Turkish Super Lig games, scoring a goal for them and creating two for his teammates. He also has a goal to his name in the Cup.
Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin)
Awoniyi has been in superb form in the German Bundesliga, scoring nine goals in 17 appearances. With a tally of 14 goals in all competitions, the 24-year-old striker is in line for the European Golden Shoe alongside the likes Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah, Patrik Shick and Karim Benzema.
Taiwo Awoniyi (Bundesliga)
Umar Sadiq (UD Almeria)
Currently Almeria’s highest goal scorer and fifth-highest in the Spanish Segunda Division, Umar Sadiq’s 15 goal contributions (eight goals, seven assists) in 19 league games have been very key to his side this season. Almeria is currently top of the table in the second tier of Spanish football.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
While Iheanacho might not be quite the monstrous goalscorer he was for Leicester City last season, he has focused on being more of a team player. The forward boasts seven assists across all competitions this season, and has four goals to his name after 22 appearances.