With just 13 days to the mouth-watering double-header clash between Nigeria and Ghana for a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Super Eagles head coach Austin Eguavoen is torn between deciding who will lead his attack as they hope to get the better of their archrivals, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The first of the two-leg clash is scheduled for Cape Coast Stadium on March 25, while the return leg holds four days later at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
Eguavoen invited 10 forwards to execute the doubleheader game against the Black Stars, with six outright strikers capable of causing damage against the Ghanaians.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo of Al-Hilal, Emmanuel Dennis (Watford) and Almeria’s Sadiq Umar are in the main list, while Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin) and the returning Paul Onuachu (Genk) are on standby.
Osimhen, who missed the AFCON tournament in Cameroon due to injury, is back and is favourite to lead the Eagles attack.
During the qualifiers, he was Nigeria’s top scorer with five goals. Despite a season plagued by injuries, the 23-year-old striker has scored 11 goals and registered four assists in 22 games.
Veteran Ighalo is another man in contention for a place in the starting XI of the Eagles game. The 32-year-old Al Hilal striker announced his retirement from the national team in 2019 immediately after the AFCON in Egypt, where he was too scorer with five goals.
After he was denied the chance to feature at the AFCON by former club Al Shabab, Ighalo was handed another chance by Eguavoen to join the squad following his impressive goals ratio this season.
The former Manchester United striker has 19 goals in 26 matches with two assists in the Saudi Arabia topflight.
Another in-form striker is Dennis, who has been an influential figure for Watford in the English Premier League, despite their relegation worries.
All eyes will definitely be on the Hornets striker after he also missed the AFCON in controversial circumstances.
But following a meeting with the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, the 24-year-old was invited for the clash against Ghana but will most likely start from the bench.
The former Club Brugge man has struggled recently in front of goal, but his return of nine goals and five assists in the EPL is not bad for a striker whose team is battling for survival.
Meanwhile, Umar continues to impress at Spanish club Almeria in the Spanish Segunda and will fancy his chance in the Eagles attack, despite a not so rosy debut appearance at the AFCON, where he had a goal to his name.
Since returning to Spain after the tournament, the striker has not only rediscovered his form but has also brought back life to the team.
In his absence, Almeria failed to win any of the four matches they played, but upon his return, they’ve won four out of six matches. Incidentally, it was the games he didn’t hit target that Almeria lost, to underline his importance to the side and why Sevilla are out to snatch him from the promotion seeking Segunda side.
Umar has scored 14 goals and assisted nine in what has been another fine season for him.
Awoniyi and Onuachu are the last two strikers in the Eagles squad for the game against Ghana and are by no means pushovers.
Both players are on standby but are definitely going to give Eguavoen something to think about while making a decision on his final 24-man squad.
Whether Eguavoen plays with two strikers or one, he sure has a tough decision to make ahead of the game as he is spoilt for choice in the attacking department.