Istanbul Basaksehir of Turkey midfielder, Azubuike Okechukwu has ruled himself out of this year’s African U-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt, as he says his club have already told him they will not release him for the competition.
With November’s championship in Egypt not included in the international calendar of world soccer governing body, FIFA, despite being Africa’s qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Azubuike’s club are not under any obligation to allow him honour Nigeria’s call.
Consequently, the Olympic Eagles’ captain will not be among the lot to be selected by coach of the sdie, Imama Amapakabo for the competition in The Land of The Pharaohs, where Nigeria will seek to keep the trophy they won four years ago in Morocco.
In Azubuike’s absence, Imama will now rely on other players in the squad to rise to the occasion, but he may also be without several other foreign-based lads, who will most likely face the same situation with their skipper.
Nigeria will join host country Egypt, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, South Africa and Zambia for this year’s competition in Egypt, for which the draw will take place on the 3rd of October, but Imama will not have the services of Azubuike, who also captained the last team to to their maiden AFCON U23 win in 2015, after defeating Algeria 2-1 in the final.
Azubuike told AOIFootball.com: “I don’t think they will be a chance for me to play in the competition because you know it doesn’t fall into the FIFA window. The club have informed me I won’t be able to partake and I have also told the coaches of their decision.”