Super Eagles likely XI vs. Sao Tome & Principe: Napoli’s Osimhen starts, Leicester’s Lookman replaces Villarreal’s Chukwueze

Nigeria meet the tiny island nation of Sao Tome & Principe later this afternoon in a matchday two fixture of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series scheduled for the Stade d’Agadir in Morocco.

The Super Eagles, three-time AFCON champions, are the clear favourites against a team that has never appeared at the continental championship.

And with head coach Jose Peseiro promising to field his best players regardless of the opponents, Soccernet.ng’s Imhons Erons picks the Portuguese’s probable starting lineup.

Goalkeeper – Uzoho

Head coach Jose Peseiro is not expected to effect drastic changes in the starting eleven after the Eagles earned the first win of his reign in the 2-1 triumph over Sierra Leone in Abuja last week.

Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho has been in goal for each of the three games Nigeria played with Peseiro in charge. The former Golden Eaglets shot-stopper should retain his number one gloves against Sao Tome & Principe.

Defenders – Aina (RB), Balogun (CB), Ajayi (CB), Bassey (LB)

Torino’s Ola Aina made his first start under Peseiro in the face-off with the Leone Stars, and he was one of the most impressive players as Nigeria secured a tenth win over their West African neighbours.

Peseiro would have been impressed, and it will not be a surprise to see the former Chelsea man retain his right-back spot.

Injury to stand-in skipper William Troost-Ekong leaves a gap in the heart of the defence for either Leganes’ Kenneth Omeruo or Rangers’ Leon Balogun to fill.

Omeruo is tough like a nail, but Balogun’s composure and ball-playing ability may give him the edge over the ex-Chelsea signing.

West Brom defender Semi Ajayi remains the biggest winner of the change in Super Eagles coach.

The former Arsenal defender barely earned a couple of games under Gernot Rohr, but he has not missed a minute with Peseiro in charge.

He is yet to keep a clean sheet in three games, though, and this game against the Falcons and True Patriots offers him the chance to set the records in order.

Midfielders – Simon (LW), Iwobi (CM), Aribo (CM), Lookman (RW)

The Super Eagles ceded control of the midfield to Sierra Leone in the first half on Friday with their orthodox 4-4-2 but scored two goals for the first time with Peseiro in charge.

The Portuguese could be tempted to try the formation again with Sao Tome & Principe not expected to offer as stiff a challenge as the Leone Stars.

Moses Simon provided two assists in that match, and the Nantes man is already a shoo-in for this encounter.

Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo were also excellent, and both should continue their partnership at the centre of the park.

Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, however, failed to impress, and his replacement in Abuja, Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, could start in his place on Monday.

Forwards: Osimhen (CF), Sadiq (SS)

Victor Osimhen confirmed his rating as Nigeria’s leading goalscorer with a pure poacher’s finish for the winner against Sierra Leone. Barring any late injury, the Napoli man should retain his place up front.

Almeria’s most valuable player Umar Sadiq played the first 45 minutes of Nigeria’s last match and did the simple things well.

The 25-year-old looks like the perfect partner for Osimhen, and he should once again beat Lorient’s Terem Moffi to a spot in the starting lineup.

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