Nigeria’s German coach Gernot Rohr has called up a list of 30 players for the Super Eagles’ opening two games in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde.
The West Africans will open their campaign against the Lone Star of Liberia on Friday September 3rd at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos before travelling away to Mindelo to face the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in a Match Day 2 tie on September 7th.
Rohr sprung little surprises in his squad with the inclusion of Captain Ahmed Musa who recently joined Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk, and Watford defender William Ekong. Other familiar faces listed are goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem, Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen.
There is also a motley crowd of other United Kingdom-based players together with strikers Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi as we as midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo, and defender Leon Balogun, that will not travel for the away tie against Cape Verde since the island country is on the British Government COVID-19 red alert list.
“Of course, it is going to be a challenge for us (against Cape Verde) because we have to change nine players from our first list,” Rohr told CAFOnline.com.
“Thanks to our excellent scouting team, it could have been so difficult to find players who can perform at the same level; but we have been able to call up adequate replacements.”
As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions on the so-called red alert zone, Rohr said players attached with UK-based clubs will not be traveling to Mindelo on MatchDay 2 hence the extension of invitations to seven other players complete with two fresh call ups for former junior international Kingsley Michael and exciting Malmo FF midfielder Innocent Bonke.
“We are going to prepare the team as best as possible; but unfortunately we won’t have almost all our midfielders and our central defence is also affected for the game against Cape Verde,” the former Bordeaux player and coach further told CAFonline.com
“We have to handle and manage the situation. Of course, we are positive and even with the possibility to see some new players like Innocent and Kingsley.
“But it can be dangerous to focus only on the second match (against Cape Verde) while we are still preparing for the first game (against Liberia) which is the most important for us now; we have to make a good first game in this important FIFA competition,” Rohr noted.
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)
Reserves: Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Valentine Ozornwafor (Sporting Charleroi, Belgium); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Kingsley Michael (Bologna FC, Italy).