By Albert Akota
Nigeria’s trophy –hunting Home-based Senior Team will fly out of the country tonight for the 5th African Nations Championship taking place in Morocco, 13th January – 4th February 2018.
A few days ago, Head Coach Salisu Yusuf named a 23 –man team to fly Nigeria’s flag at the finals, where the 2014 bronze medallists will play 2014 champions Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea in Group C.
Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor said at the weekend that the delegation will fly aboard a Turkish Airline flight from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and connect Rabat from Istanbul on Tuesday morning.
“The team will train for a few days in Rabat before heading to Tangier on Friday, 12th January,” Achor explained.
The Ikechukwu Ezenwa –captained squad will take on Rwanda (hosts of the last edition of the competition two years ago) at the Stade Ibn Batouta on Monday, 15th January, starting from 7.30pm (8.30pm Nigeria time), before games against Libya at the same venue on Friday, 19th January (starting from 4.30pm; 5.30pm Nigeria time) and Equatorial Guinea in Agadir on Tuesday, 23rd January (starting 7pm Morocco time; 8pm Nigeria time).
Nigeria failed to qualify for the final competition of the first two editions of the CHAN, losing to Ghana in 2008 (ahead of Cote d’Ivoire 2009) and beaten on aggregate by Niger Republic in 2010 (ahead of Sudan 2011).
The Class of 2014 led by Stephen Keshi (of blessed memory) qualified after edging Cote d’Ivoire 4-3 on aggregate, and then finished third in South Africa.
In 2015, the team coached by Sunday Oliseh also defeated Burkina Faso to qualify for the finals, but lost out at group phase in the finals in Rwanda few months later.
To reach the finals this time, Salisu Yusuf’s wards edged Benin Republic 2-1 on aggregate.
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 Utin (Enyimba FC); Abdullahi Musa (Wikki Tourists); Timothy Danladi (Katsina United); Ifeanyi Nweke (Kano Pillars); Stephen Eze (Kano Pillars)
Midfielders: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Augustine Oladapo (Enyimba FC); Ekundayo Ojo (Sunshine Stars)
Forwards: Emeka Atuloma (Rivers United); Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars); Eneji Moses (Plateau United); Ibrahim Mustapha (Enyimba FC); Emeka Ogbuh (Rivers United); Sunday Faleye (Shooting Stars); Nur Muhammed (El-Kanemi Warriors); Okechukwu Gabriel (Akwa United)