W’Cup qualifiers: Full house in Uyo as Okoye joins Eagles

In a boost for the Nigerian national team, goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has joined his Super Eagles teammates in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, ahead of their crucial 2026 World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic.

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Okoye’s arrival on Wednesday night means new head coach Finidi George now has his full 23-man squad available for the upcoming fixtures. The goalkeeper was among eight players who were initially left stranded in Lagos and Abuja following nationwide strikes by the Nigeria Labour Congress that disrupted flight operations.

The industrial action had thrown the team’s preparations off course, forcing the Nigeria Football Federation to arrange chartered flights to transport the stranded players to Uyo. While the other players arrived on Tuesday, Okoye’s delay in reaching the camp had raised some concerns, but the team’s media officer, Promise Efoghe, confirmed his eventual arrival, stating, “Update: Maduka Okoye has arrived at the Eagles nest. All 23 players in camp.”

The majority of the match officials for the qualifiers were also booked to travel from Abuja on Wednesday, with only the referee assessor, Ahmed Sayed Abou Elela from Egypt, expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday.

Nigeria currently sits in third place in Group C of the World Cup qualifying campaign, having managed just two points from their opening two games. The Super Eagles must win both their upcoming matches against South Africa on Friday and Benin Republic on Monday to boost their chances of securing a spot at the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Rwanda are the surprise leaders of the group with four points, while South Africa are second with three points, one point ahead of Nigeria.

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