Sodiq & Igboke: Do NPFL duo have the quality to become Super Eagles regulars?

Igboke Sodiq NPFL Super Eagles

A lot of anticipation and excitement is building up as the Super Eagles prepare to take on South Africa and Benin in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Much of the anticipation is built around coach Finidi George who will be taking charge of his first official set of games after being appointed at the end of April. Nigerian fans place a lot of scrutiny and high expectations on the manager and it will be no different for the ex-Super Eagles international.

Away from Finidi, there is going to be a lot of attention on the squad he chose for the fixtures against Bafana Bafana and the Cheetahs. The former Enyimba boss has a very strong squad at his disposal and there are some interesting picks he made due to injuries of some of the more familiar faces.

Two of the them are Ismaila Sodiq and Kenneth Igboke. Both men, who are fullbacks, are receiving their maiden national team call ups and will thrill enthusiasts of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) who have long campaigned for better inclusion of players in the country’s top flight.

Sodiq got his chance thanks to Ola Aina currently being sidelined with a muscle injury while Igboke got his chance after talisman Victor Osimhen withdrew from the initial squad because of muscular problem that has affected him for some considerable part of the season. It was not a like-for-like replacement but it was necessary as Finidi’s initial squad list was light on fullbacks, with Bright Osayi-Samuel the only recognised fullback along with Sodiq.

Super Eagles

Sodiq is a right-back likewise Osayi-Samuel and while the latter is adept at playing on the opposite flank, it is a little assuring that there is a natural left-back in Igboke as the main option in Zaidu Sanusi is also sidelined through injury at the moment.

Sodiq and Igboke have been given a golden opportunity to make an impression for the Super Eagles but the question is, can they make it count? Can they warm the hearts of fans to the point they could possibly become regulars and give Aina or Zaidu a run for their money?

Both players for a start have been impressive for their respective clubs sides in the NPFL this season. Sodiq has been at the heart of a Remo Stars side that is in title contention. The right back has played in 31 games and has provided an astonishing 13 assists.

Some of his most memorable contributions was his brace of assists on the opening day of the season against Enugu Rangers which ended in a 2-1 win. Sodiq again provided two assists in a famous 3-0 derby win over regional rivals Shooting Stars, and did so against Akwa United though it ended in a 3-2 away defeat. All these have ensured that Remo Stars are just two points away from the summit of the NPFL log in third place.

Moving on to Igboke, he has equally been impressive for Enugu Rangers who ironically are the log leaders. He does not have as many assists as Sodiq with only one, but he does have two goals which came in victories over regional rivals Heartland (2-1) and Akwa United (1-0). Igboke’s presence on the pitch on the pitch has contributed to nine clean sheets in 20 league outings.

The above analysis shows that both Sodiq and Igboke are talent with incredible defensive and offensive awareness. Not to mention that their respective sides Remo Stars and Enugu Rangers play good football, meaning where they are on the log is no fluke.

This is therefore the time for Sodiq and Igboke to make a big statement. The Super Eagles need to win both games against South Africa and Benin after only registering a point against perceived-minnows Zimbabwe and what a story it would be if Sodiq and Igboke have their names written in such massive games.

It might just be the catalyst that will let Finidi and future Super Eagles coaches look towards integrating NPFL players into the national team like enthusiasts have long desired.

The ball is left in the court of Sodiq and Igboke to make the rare opportunity count.

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