Nigeria coach, Salisu Yusuf, has named a final 18-man squad for the fifth edition of WAFU Nations Cup scheduled to hold in Ghana between Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 24 at the Nduom Sports Stadium, Elmina and Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
The former Enyimba and Kano Pillars tactician has selected goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Dele Ajiboye, who were part of the squad that picked four points off Cameroon in the the two-legged World Cup qualifiers on Friday August 1 and Monday, September 4, alongside 16 outfield players for the competition.
Nigeria home-based players who defeated Benin Republic 2-1 on aggregate to qualify for the 2018 CHAN, form the spine of the WAFU team, with the addition of adventurous players including NPFL leading scorer Anthony Okpotu from Lobi Stars, pacy Akwa United winger, Ubong Friday, Katsina United midfielder, Destiny Ashadi and Plateau United duo Daniel Itodo Peter Eneji.
Coach Yusuf believes the WAFU tournament will serve as a preparatory ground to assess and select the best legs for the CHAN tournament in January next year.
“My believe is the people (players) we call now, i know they will give the team more strength in attack, because we called players who are doing very well currently in their teams.
“We changed some players because they couldn’t perform what we expected them to perform, so we have to give other players the opportunity to play.
“But i believe that WAFU [Nations Cup] will make the CHAN team more better. Seriously, they (WAFU Squad) will help us to perfect our team for CHAN,” Yusuf told Busybodiesng.com
Nigeria who were supposed to kickstart their campaign with a first round knockout fixture against Sierra Leone on Saturday, September 9 will now wait till Monday September 11, to allow the players feature for their respective clubs in the final matchday of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Saturday.
Only a win over the Leone Stars will guarantee the WAFU Eagles a passage alongside seven other teams to the group phase of the competition.
Nigeria were part of the cancelled eight-team inaugural tournament in Ivory Coast in 2002, before hosting the event twice in succession in 2010 and 2011, finishing as champions and runners-up respectively.
The winner of this year’s WAFU Nations Cup, sponsored by American sports broadcasting giant, Fox Sports, will win a prize money of $100,000, while runners up will cart home $50,000.
The Nigerian contingent will now leave for Ghana on Sunday, September 10 at 1600 hours (5pm Nigerian Time).
●Ikechukwu Ezenwa – FC IfeanyiUbah
●Dele Ajiboye – Plateau United
●Osas Okoro – Enugu Rangers
●Stephen Eze – FC IfeanyiUbah
●Emmanuel Ariwachukwu – Akwa United
●Adeleye Olamilekan – FC IfeanyiUbah
●Chima Akas – Enyimba FC
●Daniel Itodo – Plateau United
●Afeez Aremu – Akwa United
●Rabiu Ali – Kano Pillars
●Samuel Mathias – El-Kanemi Warriors
●Ifeanyi Ifeanyi – Akwa United
●Destiny Ashadi – Katsina United
●Kingsley Eduwo – Lobi Stars
●Anthony Okpotu – Lobi Stars
●Ubong Friday – Akwa United
●Peter Eneji – Plateau United
●Gabriel Okechukwu – Akwa United