Leicester City of England attacker, Kelechi ‘Kelz’ Iheanacho and his club mate at The Foxes, Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi are among six players from the English Premier League and two from Scotland that have been declared ‘tentative’ for Nigeria’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Along with Watford’s Oghenekaro Etebo and Everton’s Alex Iwobi, as well as Glasgow Rangers of Scotland’s Joe Aribo and Leon Aderemi Balogun, Iheanacho and Ndidi have been named in the Eagles’ roster of 30 players invited for the games against Liberia and Cape Verde, but they may end up playing only one of those matches.
Also affected by the development is Watford central defender, William Troost-Ekong and Brentford midfielder, Frank Onyeka, with both and the other six seeing their fate dependent on developments over the COVID-19 situation in the UK, where the authorities have placed Cape Verde on the red list of countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that all six players from England and both from Scotland may not be heading to Cape Verde for the Eagles’ second match in the coming month, which has occasioned an enlarged the roster of invited players.
This much was offer in a press release by the communications department of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), which noted that, should the situation remain unchanged regarding COVID-19 restrictions, the eight UK-based players on the list of invitees would head back to their bases after the Eagles’ first match against next Friday against Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Heading into that game and the next away to Cape Verde in Mindelo on September 7, Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr has called up a total of 30 players, with goalkeepers Emil Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho, defenders Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem and Leon Aderemi Balogun all listed.
Also in the squad are forwards Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen as well as a return for South Africa-based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Kevin Akpoguma and Greece-based forward Henry Onyekuru.
Former junior international Kingsley Michael is also called, as Innocent Bonke from Sweden joins the Nigerian camp for the first time to the Eagles, who have featured in six of the past seven editions of the FIFA World Cup.
They host The Lone Star of Liberia at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on September 3 (starting at 5pm) and then travel to the island of Mindelo to tango The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Day 2 of the Qatar 2022 qualification series the following Tuesday, September 7.
Central African Republic is the other team in the group, and they will line up for home-and-away encounters with the Super Eagles in October.
THE FULL LIST – Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Galsgow Rangers, Scotland)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)
SEVEN OTHERS: Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy).