Three in-form Nigerian striker – Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli of Italy), Paul Ebere Onuachu (Racing Genk of Belgium) and Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis (Watford of England) have been named in the all-stars 11 missing players from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
While Osimhen and Onuachu are listed, after being forced out of the impending AFCON by injury, with Dennis’ withdrawal caused by his club’s refusal to release him, Al-Shabab of Saudi Arabia hitman, Odion Jude Ighalo is not included in the list of missing stars.
Ighalo, who stepped out of retirement in November, as he aimed at repeating his AFCON top scoring feat from Egypt 2019, was also blocked by his club, as they claimed his invitation arrived late from Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
However, sportsdayonline.com reports that the fact that he had already retired after winning the highest goals scorer’s prize at AFCON 2019 has accounted for his absence from this year’s missing star’s list, while Osimhen, Onuachu and Dennis makke the cut.
The Nigerian trio is listed alongside Cote d’Ivoire’s Sylvain Gbohouo, Cameroon’s Joel Matip, Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Chancel Mbemba and Silas as well as Zambia’s Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka.
The survey by goal.com stated in part: “Osimhen had battled back from a devastating facial injury to announce himself fit for the tournament, only for Covid to intervene.
“It’s a bitter blow for the player—the top scorer in qualifying—and hampers Nigeria’s chances of winning the continental crown.
“Dennis does not travel and remains at Vicarage Road.
“Various reasons have been given for the attacker’s non-participation in the tournament, with a lot of finger pointing, and there’s no doubt that Dennis would have been a major asset for the Super Eagles.
“Indeed, given Nigeria’s many attacking absences, Dennis should have stepped into a key role at the Nations Cup.
“Onuachu could have been a valuable Plan B for the Super Eagles off the bench.
“He demonstrated his impact during qualification for the tournament—remember that later winner against Benin—but injury has prevented him from featuring.
“With Osimhen and Ighalo both absent, Onuachu might have even fancied his chances of starting for the West African giants.”