Only 12 Super Eagles players have reported to camp for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Championship in Cameroon.
The AFCON starts on January 9, 2022, but Nigeria’s opening fixture at the tournament will take place two days later, against Egypt.
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The 33rd AFCON finals will end on 6th February 2022.
On Saturday morning, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)’s media office disclosed that Olympiacos striker, Henry Onyekuru, had arrived at the camp to swell the number of players in camp to nine.
But in an update shared by the NFF, Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal), Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France) and Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus) joined the team on Saturday.
The 12 players in camp now are Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal), Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France), Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus), Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos, Greece), Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic), Chidozie Awaziem (Alayanspor, Turkey), Chidera Ejuke(CSKA Moscow, Russia), Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa), Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain), Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), John Noble (Enyimba FC) and Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany).
There are 16 players yet to report to camp.
The Media Officer of the NFF, Mr Ayo Ibidapo, told our correspondent that there is a challenge with the release of players.
While disclosing that there is no deadline for players to arrive, he expressed optimism they will be in camp before the team’s departure to Cameroon.
“There is an understanding between clubs in Europe and CAF [Confederation of Africa Football] to have players released from 3rd of January.
“We should have a full complement of the players before they leave for Cameroon,” Mr Ibidapo added.
The team leaves for Cameroon on the 5th of January, 2022.
“We hope the shortness of training will not affect the team,” he said.
11/01 Nigeria – Egypt
15/01 Nigeria – Sudan
19/01 Guinea-Bissau – Nigeria
The technical crew already had to tinker with the list of invited players when two main strikers, Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis, were held back by their respective clubs.
In a statement on Friday morning, the NFF said Osimhen’s positive test to the coronavirus pandemic a couple of days ago was responsible for the removal of his name from the final list.
Daily Trust reported on Thursday that the striker had tested positive for COVID-19 which could stop him from participating in the championship.
That is if his club, Napoli, had given him the all-clear to participate in the AFCON.
Osimhen had earlier declared himself fit for the football fiesta but it was gathered that the club had no intention to risk him as he is still recovering from an injury he sustained earlier.
The NFF’s statement also said in-form rapid raider, Dennis, whose English Premiership club is baring fangs, has been excused to provide room for the Czech Republic-based forward Peter Olayinka.
Daily Trust had reported on Wednesday that Watford could prevent Dennis from taking part in the AFCON.
Watford coach, Claudio Ranieri, claimed on Wednesday that Nigeria had missed the deadline to call the striker up for the tournament.
Below is the list of players expected in camp for the AFCON:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Tyrone Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa)
Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Galsgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Praha, Czech Republic)