Super Eagles chief coach, Salisu Yusuf has opted for three goalkeepers in a squad of 20 players for this weekend’s Championship of African Nations (CHAN) final qualifier first leg match away to Benin Republic.
Ahead of the home-based Eagles’ trip to Cotonou, Benin Republic on Friday morning, Salisu listed skipper of the side, Ikechukwu Ezenwa from FC Ifeanyiubah of Nnewi as his first choice keeper.
Ezenwa, who is being tipped to man the post for the main Eagles against Cameroon in next month’s back-to-back World Cup qualifiers, makes the trip to Nigeria’s western neighbours alongside Theophilus Afelokhai from Enyimba International of Aba and Dele Ajiboye from Plateau United of Jos.
Only six defenders are listed, being defenders are Orji Kalu, Osas Okoro, Chima Akas, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, Stephen Eze and Nasiru Sani; to be joined by same number of midfielders – Alhassan Ibrahim ‘Muazzam,’ Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Rabiu Alli, Hafiz Aremu, Raphael Ayagwa and Samuel Matthias.
Salisu has also settled for only five attackers, led by Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) current top scorer, Stephen Odey, and his teammate at MFM FC of Lagos, Sikiru Olatubosun, to be joined by Thomas Zenke of Nasarawa United, Ifeanyi Gerorge and Kingsley Eduwo of Lobi Stars.
However, several key members of the camp, during their training and preparations in Kano, did not make the roster, as injuries ruled out Sunday Adeniji of Sunshine Stars, Mfon Udoh of Enyimba International and Plateau United captain, Elisha Golbe.
Also missing out are Prince Aggreh and Jamiu Alimi, whom both played at the last CHAN in Rwanda, as well as Austin Oladapo, Okeimute Odah, Chinedu Ajanah, Emeka Atuloma and Chiamaka Madu.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) have already appointed Algerian referee, Mustapha Ghorbal to take charge of proceedings at Stade de l’Amitie on Sunday, starting from 4pm.
He will be assisted by compatriots Mokrane Gourari (Assistant Referee 1), Mohammed Serradj (Assistant Referee 2) and Said Aquina (Reserve Referee).
After Nigeria failed to reach the finals of the first two editions of the competition exclusively reserved for footballers plying their trade in their countries’ domestic Leagues, the Eagles won the bronze medals at the third edition in 2014. They however could not make the knock –out stage at the fourth edition in Rwanda early last year.
The return leg will hold at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Saturday, 19th August, with the winner qualifying for the 5th African Nations Championship scheduled for Kenya early next year.
The full roster has – Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United); Defenders: Orji Kalu (Rangers International); Stephen Eze (FC IfeanyiUbah); Ariwachukwu Emmanuel (Akwa United); Chima Akas (Enyimba FC); Nasiru Sani (Katsina United); Osas Okoro (Rangers International).
Others are – Midfielders: Hafiz Aremu (Akwa United); Raphael Ayagwa (Lobi Stars); Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Samuel Mathias (El-Kanemi Warriors); Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United); Forwards: Sikiru Olatubosun (MFM FC); Thomas Zenke (Nasarawa United); Stephen Odey (MFM FC); Kingsley Eduwo (Lobi Stars); Ifeanyi George (Rangers International).