Home –Based Super Eagles chief coach, Salisu Yusuf has called up 18 players for this month’s West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations tournament for senior national teams, slated for Ghana.
Top on the list are goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Dele Ajiboye, together with 16 other players including midfielder Rabiu Ali and forward Kingsley Eduwo, who both scored as the Super Eagles ran away 2-0 winners over Benin Republic in Kano to qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship, CHAN in Kenya.
Also included in the list are defenders Eze Stephen, Chima Akas, Osas Okoro and Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, with midfielders Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Samuel Mathias and Afeez Aremu making the squad. Akwa United’s Gabriel Okechukwu and Ubong Friday, Katsina United Destiny Ashadi, Peter Eneji of Plateau United and in-form Lobi Stars Striker, Anthony Okpotu earned their first call ups.
Nigeria will play Sierra Leone in the first round (knock-out) of the tournament , before the eight knock-out stage winners will emerge for a group phase competition. The competition takes place 9th – 24th September.
Nigeria is in Group A alongside hosts, Ghana who will play The Gambia, while Mali are up against Mauritania and Guinea Bissau will clash with Guinea. All the teams in Group A will play in Takoradi, the twin city of Sekondi that also hosted matches during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
Group B Teams will compete in Cape Coast. 2015 African champions Cote d’Ivoire headline the pool that also has Senegal, Burkina Faso and Benin Republic, with Liberia, Niger Republic, Togo and Cape Verde also involved.
FULL LIST OF SUPER EAGLES
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)
Defenders: Stephen Eze (FC IfeanyiUbah); Emmanuel Ariwachukwu (Akwa United); Chima Akas (Enyimba FC); Osas Okoro (Rangers International); Adeleye Olamilekan (FC IfeanyiUbah); Daniel James (Plateau United)
Midfielders: Afeez Aremu (Akwa United); Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Samuel Mathias (El-Kanemi Warriors); Destiny Ashadi (Katsina United)
Forwards: Gabriel Okechukwu (Akwa United); Kingsley Eduwo (Lobi Stars); Peter Eneji (Plateau United); Ubong Friday (Akwa United); Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars)
Mikel: Zambia Is In Good Spirit But It’s Time To Wrap It Up
Super Eagles skipper, Mikel Obi is not getting carried away by Nigeria being tipped the favourites to outclass Zambia.
The Tianjin Teda midfielder, John Obi Mikel is not underating the Zambians and has dismissed their Underdog Tag.
Serious Task Ahead
Mikel, knowing what is astake, has however given an insight of what the Super Eagles will do come next week Saturday.
Having defeated Algeria home and away, Mikel believes the Super Eagles will have to take Zambia seriously.
But he is confident Nigeria will grab the the ticket to the World Cup in Russia with a victory.
”I must admit that I applaud the resurgence of the Zambians this late in the qualifiers.
Beating Algeria home and away is no mean feat,” Mikel told thenff.com.
”We will take them very serious on 7th October because they clearly have a new spirit. It is time we wrap this up.”
In conclusion, the former Chelsea ace heaped praise on his teammates and the technical crew.
He explained that the Super Eagles’ imminent World Cup qualification is due to the crew’s hardwork and positive approach.
Mikel added : ”We have all shown professionalism, dedication and determination to be at the pole position in a group tagged ‘Group of Death.’
“Commendations must go to the entire team and the Coach, but we must finish it up in Uyo and secure our ticket right there.”
Bondo To Decide Nigeria Versus Zambia Affair
39-year old Bostwana referee, Joshua Bondo will take charge of proceedings of Nigeria’s match against Zambia.
Bondo who has been an international referee for the past 10 years will take charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Uyo next week Saturday.
FIFA has chosen Bondo alongside his countrymen, Oamogetse Godisamang, 40, and Tirelo Mositwane, 30, to rule over the game.
Godisamang, an international assistant referee since year 2010 will serve as Assistant Referee 1, while Tirelo Mositwane, an international referee since 2013 will serve as Fourth Official.
Souru Phatsoane from Lesotho will be the Assistant Referee 2 for the October 7 showdown.
South Africa’s Mr. Carlos Manuel Neves Henriques will be the Referee Assessor while Sudanese Osama Hassan Ataaelmanan is the match commissioner.
Hassan was also the Match Commissioner for the game between Nigeria and Cameroon in Yaounde on September 4.
Battle Of Champions
A win in Uyo will see three –time African champions, Nigeria seal a sixth FIFA World Cup appearance in Russia.
2012 Africa Cup of Nations winners, Zambia, will face the champions of the 2013, Nigeria, on October 7.
The make-or-break game will Kick –off at 5pm at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.