W’Cup Qualifiers: Okoye Returns To Rival Nwabali


Udinese goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, has been recalled to the Super Eagles by head coach Finidi George, in place of Cyprus-based goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, for the two crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic on June 7 and 10 respectively.

The Nigeria Football Federation on Friday released the 23-man list for both games with Europa League winner and Atalanta hero, Ademola Lookman, headlining the list of invited players that will prosecute Finidi’s first real tests in charge of the team.

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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