Napoli’s Victor Osimhen calls for dismissal from Nigeria squad ahead of US tour
Wanted Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has asked to be excused from the Nigeria squad for their upcoming US tour, as they try to put the heartache of their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup behind them.
A target of Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle among others, the Napoli player’s exclusion from friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador in the United States this month came as a shock, as substitute manager Salisu Yusuf named a 30-man squad on Wednesday.
Osimhen is one of six players – including Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho and former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo – missing from the squad as the Super Eagles continue their preparations for the European Cup qualifiers. Nations Africa 2023 in June.
An NFF source told ESPN it was Osimhen’s choice to miss out: “He called and asked us to excuse him for personal reasons.
“Of course a striker of his quality is a big loss, but it also gives us the opportunity to look at other players who might have been unlucky if he was there. That includes some of the boys who have done well in the domestic league.”
As for Iheanacho, who started CAN in January under Augustine Eguavoen, and Ighalo, the NFF official said they could well return for the qualifiers against Sierra Leone and São Tomé é Príncipe.
But first, they face Mexico at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas on May 28, and follow that up four days later with a clash against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Other absentees are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi. Uzoho has barely played for his club since the mistake that gave Ghana the goal that cost Nigeria a World Cup ticket, while Akpeyi’s time as an international is coming to an end.
Instead, Maduka Okoye returns after missing World Cup qualifiers with COVID, and Yusuf called up two NPFL goalkeepers, namely Enyimba’s Olorunleke Ojo and Akwa United’s Adewale Adeyinka. Both goaltenders are among eight NPFL players selected to the squad.
Feyenoord striker Cyriel Dessers and midfielders Azubuike Okechukwu and Alhassan Yussuf have also been recalled. The recall of Dessers is the reward of an excellent season in the UEFA Europa Conference League, where he is the top scorer with 10 goals.
Substitute coach Yusuf was banned from football following a corruption scandal in 2018, but was reappointed by the NFF as an assistant to a yet-to-be-appointed head coach, and will also combine that with coaching duties. head coach of both B team and U23 teams.
He will lead the Super Eagles as the NFF continues its search for a new coach to replace Gernot Rohr.
The German was fired in December ahead of AFCON as the NFF hoped to turn things around in order to qualify for the World Cup. This bet did not bear fruit and the federation remains blocked in search of a new coach.
As the 2023 qualifier unfolds, Yusuf is expected to take charge of the first two of those qualifiers, assisted by former Ajax star Finidi George.
Those qualifying matches are against Sierra Leone at Abuja in Abuja on June 9, and São Tomé e Príncipe in Marrakech, Morocco on June 13.
THE COMPLETE TEAM
Goalkeepers: Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Ojo Olorunleke (Enyimba FC)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Isa Ali (Remo Stars); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ibrahim Buhari (United Plateau)
Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Chiamaka Madu (Rivers United); Babatunde Afeez Nosiru (Kwara United); Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey); Samson Tijani (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria); Alhassan Yusuf (Royal Antwerp FC, Belgium)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, Netherlands); Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba FC); Ishaq Rafiu (Rivers United)