Nigeria Head Coach Salisu Yusuf has named a 20-man squad for Home Eagles’ 2018 African Nations Championship qualifying match away to Benin Republic.
League top scorer Stephen Odey, as well as the duo of Chima Akas and Osas Okoro – who were part of the team that represented Nigeria in the 2016 edition of the tournament- all make the cut, but league record scorer and captain of Enyimba Mfon Udoh, who was listed in the provisional squad of 30 announced a month ago, misses out.
Salisu’s list also includes goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Odey’s club team-mate Sikiru Olatunbosun, in-form Lobi Stars forward Kingsley Eduwo, Akwa United’s sensational midfielder Ibrahim Alhassan and Kano Pillars captain Rabiu Ali.
The team will fly from Kano to Lagos on Friday and then make the short trip to Cotonou by road same day.
The return leg will hold at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Saturday, 19th August, with the winner qualifying for the 5th African Nations Championship scheduled for Kenya early next year.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the first two editions of the competition exclusively reserved for footballers plying their trade in their countries’ domestic Leagues. They, however, won bronze at the third edition hosted by South Africa in 2014. In 2016, they made their second appearance at the biennial tournament, but failed to get past the group stage.
THE FULL SQUAD
•Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)
•Defenders: Orji Kalu (Rangers International); Stephen Eze (FC IfeanyiUbah); Ariwachukwu Emmanuel (Akwa United); Chima Akas (Enyimba FC); Nasiru Sani (Katsina United); Osas Okoro (Rangers International)
•Midfielders: Hafiz Aremu (Akwa United); Raphael Ayagwa (Lobi Stars); Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Samuel Mathias (El-Kanemi Warriors); Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United)
•Forwards: Sikiru Olatubosun (MFM FC); Thomas Zenke (Nasarawa United); Stephen Odey (MFM FC); Kingsley Eduwo (Lobi Stars); Ifeanyi George (Rangers International