By Amaechi Agbo
Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has included Captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Victor Osimhen in a 24-man list for this month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying battles with Benin Republic and Lesotho.
Nigeria, top of the Group E log with eight points (one ahead of Benin Republic and five more than third-placed Sierra Leone), tackle the Squirrels away at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday, 27th March and will lock horns with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos three days later. Both are the concluding games of the qualifying series.
Also included are Enyimba FC goalkeeper John Noble, defenders Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Olaoluwa Aina, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze.
The versatile Abdullahi Shehu is listed as a midfielder this time and there is a first senior call for Spain –based forward Sadiq Umar.
Seven players, including long –time goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, are on standby.
Rohr, who has steered Nigeria to qualifying for two major tournaments (2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations) with a game to spare, countenance even better accomplishment this time, as the Eagles could earn a ticket to the finals in Cameroon before kick-off in Porto Novo, should Lesotho and Sierra Leone end their encounter in Maseru in a stalemate. The result would be known before kick-off in Porto Novo.
The Full List
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosa, Cyprus); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Unattached); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Sadiq Umar (Almeria FC, Spain); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Girondins Bordeaux, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)
Standby: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Michael Olise (Reading FC, England); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors)