Nigeria have announced their final list of twenty-three players for the fast approaching African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Morocco. In a release by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Tuesday night, home based Super Eagles head coach Salisu Yusuf called up several of the side which finished second at the WAFU Cup of Nations last year.
Yusuf’s team will be led by goalkeeper and captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa, midfield stalwart Rabiu Ali and Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer Anthony Okpotu. There were first-time call-ups for defenders Abdullahi Musa and Ikouwem Udoh, the latter a budding left back with former African Champions Enyimba.
There was however no place for Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso, Plateau United youngster Tosin Omoyele and CNN Wonder Goal awardee Sikiru Olatunbosun in the final squad.
The biggest omission in the team arguably is Lobi Stars striker Kingsley Eduwo. The burly forward scored in Nigeria’s decisive qualifier against Benin Republic in August but seems to have fallen out of favour despite scoring against MFM FC in last month’s Pre-Season Invitational final.
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The team of 23 players and their officials are expected to fly out of the country in a few days, to continue preparations in Morocco ahead of Nigeria’s first match of the campaign against Rwanda in Tangier on Monday January 15.
The 2014 bronze medallists will also play 2014 champions Libya at the same Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier on Friday, January 19 before travelling to Agadir to tackle Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday, January 23.
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC), Oladele Ajiboye (Plateau United), Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC)
Defenders: Osas Okoro (Rangers International), Daniel James (Plateau United), Kalu Orji Okogbue (Rangers International), Ikouwem Udoh (Enyimba FC), Abdullahi Musa (Wikki Tourists), Timothy Danladi (Katsina United); Ifeanyi Nweke (Kano Pillars), Stephen Eze (Kano Pillars)
Midfielders: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United), Emeka Atuloma (Rivers United), Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars), Augustine Oladapo (Enyimba FC), Ekundayo Ojo (Sunshine Stars)
Forwards: Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars), Eneji Moses (Plateau United), Ibrahim Mustapha (Enyimba FC), Emeka Ogbugh (Rivers United), Sunday Faleye (Akwa United), Nura Muhammed (El-Kanemi Warriors), Okechukwu Gabriel (Akwa United)