Sports

2026 World Cup qualifiers: Five players with a point to prove in Nigeria vs. South Africa clash

photo output 4 scaled

By Ibukun Italoye

 

The stage is set and the fans are ready as the Super Eagles of Nigeria battle South Africa in the 2026 World Cup qualifying games, Soccernet.ng reports. 

While we count down to the important encounter, here are five players who have a point to prove:

1. Ibrahim Olawoyin

Lots of questions were asked by the Nigerian media and football enthusiasts when the Rizespor midfielder was not included in the initial list.

They believed the former Abia Warriors starlet deserved a spot in the team following his stellar performance for his Turkish side.

However, luckily, he was handed a late call-up to replace Nathan Tella who pulled out due to personal reasons.

Now that he is in the team, Olawoyin will hope to justify his inclusion and also repay fans’ trust with a stellar performance.

2. Kelechi Iheanacho

Though Kelechi Iheanacho played only 26 games (1111 minutes) this season, he was invited by the new Super Eagles technical crew.

Many Nigerians were indifferent towards his invitation due to poor club form and fitness concerns.

If given the opportunity, the Leicester City forward will look to prove his doubters wrong by adding to his 15 tally for the national team.

3. Relebohile Mofokeng

The only South African on the list, Mofokeng might make his debut for the Bafana Bafana in tonight’s encounter.

The 19-year-old striker had a good outing with Orlando Pirates in the just-concluded season, scoring five goals in all competitions.

He is currently the rave of the moment in South Africa and needs to prove his worth against the experienced Nigeria defenders.

4. Victor Boniface

Victor Boniface is expected to be in the Super Eagles Starting XI and lead the attack in the absence of the injured Victor Osimhen.

Considering his impressive goalscoring record for Bayer Leverkusen this season, many Nigerians are counting on him to deliver the much-needed goals. He must prove that he is a worthy replacement for Osimhen.

5. Samuel Chukwueze

Samuel Chukwueze has not lived up to expectations when playing for the national team.

Though he sometimes shows glimpses of his abilities and brilliance, Nigerians want more from the AC Milan winger.

They want consistency, more goal assists, and impressive overall display. The former Villarreal winger must up his game tonight to protect his position in the team.

Meanwhile, the crunch tie will take place at the Nest of Champions in Uyo by 8 pm.