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AFCON 2023: 5 Super Eagles stars to watch

AFCON 2023: 5 Super Eagles stars to watch.

African footballers. There are a couple new faces in the Super Eagles who will be looking to impress when Nigerian take on Sao Tome and Principe in their final AFCON qualifier. We discuss which are the 5 players to watch at the AFCON 2023 games.

On Sunday, September 10, 2023, the Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on the Falcons of Sao Tome and Principe in their last game of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers. 

The Super Eagles have already secured their spot in next year’s competition, but that has not stopped the team’s coach, Jose Peseiro, from inviting his best players.

Calling up regulars like Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukweuze and Joe Aribo, the Portuguese coach is not letting any chances fly.

But while they are no strangers, Peseiro has also called up new players for the dead-rubber match. These players will be hoping to impress ahead of the start of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in November. 

With that said, we look at some of the players to watch when Nigeria take on Sao Tome on Sunday. 

Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen)

Nigeria’s current attack may be the best ever in the country’s history, but it just got better with the addition of Victor Boniface.

For a very long time, there have been calls to invite the 22-year-old.  Last season, he scored 17 goals and recorded 12 assists for Royale Union Saint Gilloise, but it was not enough to earn him a call-up. Nonetheless, his performance earned him a move to Bayer Leverkusen, who splashed €20.50m on the Nigerian this summer. 

While some players may find the transition from Belgium to Germany difficult, Boniface has settled into Bundesliga like a duck to water. The former Bodo & Glint star has been arguably the best player in Germany’s top flight this early season, with four goals and two assists in three games. 

These early season performances have now gotten the attention of Peseiro, who has finally called up the 22-year-old. 

Boniface will now look to impress the Portuguese tactician. In terms of pure talent, Boniface’s ceiling is high, even though Osimhen is Nigeria’s top marksman now. 

Gift Orban (Gent) 

Like Boniface, Gift Orban also had a fantastic year last season. Orban’s display is even more impressive, considering he was unknown before the start of 2023. 

However, following his move to Gent from Staebek in January, Orban’s career exploded. The 21-year-old’s name was on everyone’s lips after scoring 20 goals and registering two assists. 

Orban has continued in the same vein this season with six goals in nine games. He now has the opportunity to show his quality on the international scene with the Super Eagles.

Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista) 

While the Super Eagles are stacked in attack, the left-back position is up for grabs. Zaidu Sanusi and Jamilu Collins are two players who have played in that position, but they have not really been convincing. 

This gives Bruno Onyemaechi a chance to make the position his own. The Boavista defender was called up for the friendly game against Portugal last year but never got a chance to play. 

However, with Sanusi out and Collins’ fitness in doubt, Onyemaechi has a chance to impress.

AFCON 2023: Super Eagles star Jordan Torunarigha (Gent) 

The centre defence is another position up for grabs. Vice-captain William Troost-Ekong has had different partners in that position in recent games. Even Ekong has only played because he is the vice-captain. 

This is where Jordan Tourinarigha comes in. The Gent defender has been called up for the first time, and it is a chance for him to show he could be the new leader in Nigeria’s defence. 

Tourinarigha’s invitation has already been called into questioning, having represented Germany at youth level before recently switching allegiance. 

However, it comes after years of convincing him to play for Nigeria. This has led to suggestions that he only switched because he has no chance with Germany’s national team. 

It is hard to fault the fans, but Torunarigha can win fans with a solid performance on Sunday. 

Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge) 

If Nigeria’s attack is heavily loaded, then the midfield looks thin. Peseiro has called up just five midfielders due to a lack of quality options. 

But this gives Raphael Onyedika a chance to stake a claim for a regular call up. The Club Brugge midfielder made his debut for Nigeria against Algeria last year but failed to impress.