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Peseiro invites Tella, snubs Gift Orban for Lesotho, Zimbabwe tie



KAA Gent striker Gift Orban

Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro has released his 23-man squad, leaving out KAA Gent striker Gift Orban for this month’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Gift Orban, the in-form 21-year-old striker, bagged a perfect hat-trick—header, right foot, left foot—for Gent in their 3-2 win over Icelandic side Breiðablik, which has put the Buffalos in a good position to qualify for the knockout stage.

Gift Orban’s latest hat-trick was his third in the Europa League, and he has now scored nine goals in nine games, which is an average of one goal per game in the competition.

After four rounds of games, Gift Orban is now the joint top scorer this season, with four goals in the competition.

Gift Orban netted his first goal in this season’s Europa League against Breiðablik on October 26.


In addition, the Super Eagles head coach handed a debut invitation to Bayer Leverkusen striker Nathan Tella to strengthen his missing strike force.

The 24-year-old’s invitation comes in place for a number of missing attackers in the team, with Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and AC Milan forward Samuel Chukwueze out, just as Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi is also out due to injury.

Cyprus-based goalkeeper Francis Uzoho is joined by Udinese’s Maduka Okoye and Enyimba’s Ojo Olorunleke, while invited defenders include Kenneth Omeruo Ola Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, and Bright Osayi-Samuel.

Cardiff City’s Jamilu Collins makes a return after a long layoff due to injury, while Bruno Onyemaechi, Semi Ajayi, and Calvin Bassey are also invited.


There are only four midfielders in the squad, which are Alex Iwobi, Frank Onyeka, Joe Ayodele-Aribo, Frank Onyeka, and Raphael Onyedika.

Nantes forward Moses Simon, Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho, and Nottingham Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi are among the forwards invited.

Others are in-form Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface, Terem Moffi, and Ademola Lookman, while Real Sociedad’s Sadiq Umar makes the initial list, unlike the last time out when he was handed a late call-up for the friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.

After missing out on the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the Super Eagles kick-start their race to USA/Mexico/Canada 2026 with the clash against Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, next Thursday, and then fly to Rwanda for a clash with Zimbabwe at the Huye Stadium in Butare, Rwanda, on Monday, November 20.


Zimbabwe has adopted Rwanda as its home for the qualifiers, as no stadium in the southern African nation has been deemed fit to host the FIFA World Cup qualifying games.

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