W’Cup Qualifiers: Okoye Returns to Rival Nwabali

Head coach Finidi George has called up Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye to the Super Eagles in lieu of Francis Uzoho, who is based in Cyprus, for the two pivotal 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 and 10, respectively.

The 23-man roster for both matches was announced by the Nigeria Football Federation on Friday. Ademola Lookman, the Europa League champion and Atalanta hero, is at the top of the list of invited players who will take part in Finidi’s first official tests as team manager.

Aside from Okoye’s return, there was a fresh call-up to the national team for Remo Stars right back, Sodiq Ismail, while Taiwo Awoniyi and Ola Aina, Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong top the list of omitted players.

Okoye has been out of the national team for over two years, with his last appearance for Nigeria coming against Tunisia on January 23, 2022, during the ill-fated 2021 AFCON round of 16 clash, when he committed a howler which led to Nigeria’s 1-0 defeat and exit from the tournament.

Since turning his career around with consistent performance for Udinese in the Serie A, Okoye takes the place of Uzoho among the three goalkeepers while new number one Stanley Nwabali will also be in camp to fight for his shirt as well as Enyimba goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke.

He has managed four clean sheets in 20 Serie A appearances this season, winning a few Man of the Match and Udinese Player of The Month awards.

For Ismail, the defender has been on fire in the Nigeria Premier Football League this season, providing 12 assists in 30 matches.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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