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Awoniyi Leads Nigeria’s Foreign Legion To Olympic Eagles

Olympic Eagles’ coach, Imama Amapakabo is set to unveil a class of fast-rising lads in an assemblage of Nigerian Galacticos and a true semblance of the original ‘Dream Team’ next week, with Excel Mouscron of Belgium attacker, Taiwo Awoniyi among several other foreign-based players now listed for Wednesday’s Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifier away to Libya.

The 21-year-old striker, who is on loan from Liverpool of England, was a member of the Golden Eaglets’ winning team at UAE 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and was at the 2015 edition of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations.

Awoniyi, who has also played on loan at FSV Frankfurt of Germany, NEC Nijmegen of Holland and KAA Gent of Belgium, was also in Coach Samson Yebowei Siasia’s provisional list for the 2016 Olympic Games but did not make the final squad, despite raining goals that helped the team qualify.

With several home-based players ending up with age irregularities and giving Amapakabo problems in building a stable under-23 squad, the ex-youth international goalkeeper has turned his attention to Europe for a solution, ahead of the first leg match billed to hold in Tunisia.

Also confirmed for next week’s game are Orji Okonkwo from USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS), Samuel Chukwueze from Villarreal of Spain, Azubuike Okechukwu from Rizerspor, Turkey, Kelechi Nwakali from FC Porto, Portugal, and Kingsley Michael, who is currently on loan from top-flight Italian side, Bologna to lower division Perugia in the Italian Serie C.

Among the ‘foreign-legion’ invaders from Europe already training with Amapakabo’s squad in Abuja are the Portugal-based trio of Feirense’s Tosin Kehinde, Bede Opara from 4th division Vilar de Perdizes and Rio Ave B defender, Kelechi John.

Also officially invited for the trip to North Africa by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are Sadiq Umar from Perugia of Italy and Olabiran Blessing Muyiwa (aka Benito), who was born in Cote d’Ivoire.

Benito is also eligible to represent CIV, but Nigeria have made the first move for the 20-year-old from FC Tambov of Russia.

However, Spezia of Italy are reportedly not ready to release their fast-rising striker, Uche Okereke ‎to play both games for Nigeria against Libya, as they need him to help in their quest to gain promotion to the Serie A.

Spezia, though, acceded that they could let Okereke leave after their game against Benevento on Saturday, which means he will likely join Amapakabo’s squad in Tunisia on Monday, March 18th, two days to the match, which means he would not be able to train with the team before.

However, for the return leg In Nigeria, Spezia are not opposed to letting Okereke go, as they do not have games in Serie B on the weekend the Olympic Eagles’ return leg against Libya.

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