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Nigeria’s Best XI of 2023: Osimhen, Orban in; Moffi, Iheanacho out

Nigeria’s Best XI of 2023: Osimhen, Orban in; Moffi, Iheanacho out

2023 was a beautiful year for many Nigerian footballers in and outside the country’s shores.

Soccernet.ng‘s Imhons Erons presents the Nigeria Team of the Year after closely looking at individual performances at the top of the game.

GK: Jonathan Rasheed

While Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho struggled to get appearances for their clubs, Jonathan Rasheed was excellent in Sweden.

Despite his club IFK Värnamo finishing fifth in the Allsvenskan, the 32-year-old shot-stopper was rated the second-best goalkeeper in the recently concluded league campaign.

Rasheed gets this top spot just ahead of Okorunleke Ojo, who helped Enyimba FC win the NPFL in 2023.

RB: Bright Osayi-Samuel

Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, and Chidozie Awaziem were often Nigeria’s go-to right-backs in recent years, but that changed in 2023 with the emergence of Osayi-Samuel.

The former QPR defender replicated his excellent form for Fenerbahce with the Super Eagles, and he could be Jose Peseiro’s first-choice at the AFCON.

CB: Igoh Ogbu

One of the Flying Eagles’ stars at the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup, Ogbu took a step closer to elite football when he joined Slavia Prague in January 2023.

The defender has been a top performer in the Czech Republic League and the Europa League and could soon become a key player for the Super Eagles.

CB: Calvin Bassey

After his nightmarish spell at Ajax, Calvin Bassey is evolving into a top central defender at Fulham.

While Semi Ajayi, Leon Balogun, and William Troost-Ekong also had a year to remember in many aspects, Bassey trumps them to this one.

The former Glasgow Rangers star has impressed in the Premier League and has been backed by Fulham boss Marco Silva to develop into a top-level left centre-back

LB: Bruno Onyemaechi

With Jamilu Collins out on the treatment table for a lengthy period and Porto’s Zaidu Sanusi niggling injury troubles, Onyemaechi stepped up to the plate for Nigeria.

The youngster was a constant feature at his Portuguese club, Boavista, and for the Super Eagles during the 2023 AFCON qualifiers.
He ends 2023 as Nigeria’s best left-back.

LM: Ademola Lookman

While Moses Simon and Nantes struggled in Ligue 1 throughout the year, Ademola Lookman and Atalanta put together several excellent performances in Serie A.

Lookman managed only a goal and an assist in five appearances for Nigeria in 2023, but he was superb for Atalanta, where he contributed 15 goals and eight assists in all competitions.

For this, he edges Simon out of this ideal squad.

CM: Alex Iwobi

Iwobi’s consistent all-or-nothing display was one of the reasons why Everton avoided relegation last season.

The former Arsenal man switched to Fulham in the summer and has been one of the Cottagers’ most creative forwards.

Iwobi is also Nigeria’s Mr reliable and was a constant feature as Nigeria lost only one of eight matches in 2023, winning four others.

CM: Wilfred Ndidi

Alhassan Yusuf won the Pro League title with Royal Antwerp, while Raphael Onyedika impressed with Club Brugge, but Wilfred Ndidi gets the nod ahead of them.

Ndidi could not help Leicester City avoid getting relegated to the Championship, but he is fueling their charge for an instant return to the Premier League.

Having embraced a role change in the Foxes’ midfield, the dynamic defensive midfielder is enjoying the most productive period of his career with two goals and five assists this season.

RM: Victor Boniface

Traditionally a centre-forward, Boniface can play any role across the attack, and he was brilliant for Union Saint-Gilloise before switching to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer.

The young forward has been the revelation of the season in Germany, winning the first four Bundesliga Rookie Player of the Month awards.

Boniface is leading Bayer Leverkusen’s charge to win the league title and the Europa League, and with that, he pushes out AC Milan’s Samuel Chukweeze from this list.

CF: Victor Osimhen

Nigeria’s first and only €100 million striker, Victor Osimhen, was at his peak in 2023.

Osimhen scored goals at will as Napoli reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time and won the Scudetto after a 33-year wait.

Osimhen scored 29 goals for Napoli and five for the Super Eagles in 2023 to finish as Nigeria’s highest-scoring player.

CF: Gift Orban

Any one of Terem Moffi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Odion Ighalo, Chuba Akpom, and Akor Adams could have taken the spot beside Osimhen. Still, none has merited it as much as Gift Orban.

In 2023, Orban had more hat-tricks than Erling Haaland, scored the fastest hat-trick in the history of European club competitions, and fired more club goals (32) than any other Nigerian in the world, including Osimhen.

The youngster was nominated for the CAF Young Player of the Year award following his brilliant showings and he completes the lineup for Nigeria’s Best Eleven of 2023.

Nigeria’s Best XI of 2023

Who would you want out of the team? Share your answers with us in the comment section. 

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