Osimhen out, Tella in: Predicting Super Eagles 25-man squad for Lesotho and Zimbabwe in 2026 World Cup qualifiers

The 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off this month, with Nigeria scheduled to trade tackles with Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

The Super Eagles will welcome Lesotho’s Crocodiles to Uyo on November 16 before they travel to Kigali, Rwanda, to take on Zimbabwe’s Warriors three days later.

Nigeria have won all their four previous encounters against Lesotho and have never lost a competitive match against Zimbabwe, winning four and drawing one of five meetings.

To maintain that excellent tradition, Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro will bank on Nigeria’s best legs to prosecute the two matches in September.

Super Eagles
Super Eagles presents a 25-man roster of Nigeria’s best players who can power the Super Eagles to victories over the Crocodiles and Warriors.

Goalkeepers: Uzoho, Rasheed, Adeleke

Coach Peseiro has made it clear that he is ready to stick with Francis Uzoho as his number-one goalkeeper, with Adebayo Adeleke not impressing him well enough in training.

One goalkeeper who could, however, force the Portuguese tactician to have a change of heart is Sweden-based Jonathan Rasheed.

The 31-year-old shot-stopper has been excellent for IFK Varnamo in the Allsvenskan, and he has expressed his desire to dump Norward to represent Nigeria.

While goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was impressive on his Udinese debut, Rasheed could be the man to challenge Uzoho for the Eagles’ number-one gloves.

Defenders: Troost-Ekong, Ajayi, Bassey, Omeruo, Osayi-Samuel, Onyemaechi, Torunarigha, Aina

Peseiro snubbed William Troost-Ekong for Nigeria’s last few friendly games, but there was no improvement in the Eagles’ defence as they conceded five goals against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.

The PAOK defender could be back to offer competition to the centre-back pairing of Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey, which has failed to impress.

It is hard to ignore Chidozie Awaziem’s excellent showing in Portugal, which has seen the Boavista man nominated for the Player of the Month award.

Jordan Torunarigha
Jordan Torunarigha

However, Peseiro wants Gent centre-back Jordan Torunarigha and Kenneth Omeruo as the backup options in the Super Eagles.

Ola Aina has recovered well from injury, and he could be invited to compete with Bright Osayi-Samuel for the right-back spot.

For the left-back role, Bruno Onyemaechi is the new number one, with Zaidu Sanusi injured and Bassey scheming his way into the centre-back position. There is no need to invite Cardiff City’s Jamilu Collins in the meantime.

Midfielders: Dele-Bashiru, Aribo, Onyeka, Onyedika, Iwobi, Yusuf

Wilfred Ndidi is usually the first name on the Super Eagles team list, but the Leicester City midfielder is injured and will not be available.

Brentford’s Frank Onyeka and Club Brugge’s Raphael Onyedika can come in and do a good job.

Wilfred Ndidi
Wilfred Ndidi

It could also be a great time to open the door of international football to Royal Antwerp’s Alhassan Yusuf, who is highly rated in Belgium.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru did great on his Super Eagles debut in October, while Joe Aribo was one of Nigeria’s best players against Mozambique. Both players could offer creative support to Fulham’s Alex Iwobi.

Forwards: Lookman, Simon, Boniface, Iheanacho, Moffi, Sadiq, Awoniyi, Tella

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and AC Milan’s Samuel Chukwueze are ruled out of Nigeria’s engagements in November due to injury.

Victor Boniface, Kelechi Iheanacho, Terem Moffi, and Umar Sadiq are quality striking options that will cover well in the absence of Osimhen.

Taiwo Awoniyi has only returned from injury, but he remains a key man for Nottingham Forest, and he could be relied upon to fire the goals against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Should Awoniyi be unavailable for the Super Eagles, Peseiro could hand a first Super Eagles call-up to in-form Montpellier striker Akor Adams.

Former Flying Eagles forward Adams has seven goals in nine Ligue 1 games, and he is the highest-scoring Nigerian in the French top flight this term.

Akor Adams
Akor Adams

There is no immediate replacement for Chukwueze on the Super Eagles’ right flank.

However, Bayer Leverkusen winger Nathan Tella would be the perfect fit for the Super Eagles, with his creative and goalscoring abilities no longer in doubt.

Red Star Belgrade’s Peter Olayinka is also another fine alternative for Peseiro.

Moses Simon excels on the left flank, but Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman is always on hand to come in when the Nantes winger is not in his element.