Mikel Out of Poland Friendly as 22 Players Train


* Injured Etebo, Junior Ajayi also to miss the match in Wroclaw

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Unless something happens between now and Friday morning, Nigeria is going to play the international friendly with Poland in Wroclaw without her inspirational skipper, John Mikel Obi.

The former Chelsea player who moved Far East to team up with Chinese Super League club, Tianjin Teda last season, is believed to be battling hard to renew his work permit in China.

With 22 players already in Eagles’ Radisson Blu Hotel camp in Wroclaw yesterday, training began in earnest ahead of the Friday friendly with the Polish senior national team.

Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor, confirmed yesterday that Mikel is not likely to be available for the Friday game.

“We all had been hoping that the renewal (of Mikel’s work permit) would come in good time for him to fly to Poland.

“As it is now, it is not likely that he would make the trip here,” stressed the Super Eagles administrator.

Apart from Mikel, two other invited players, Oghenekaro Etebo and Junior Ajayi are also not in Wroclaw.

Etebo who plays for struggling LaLiga club, Las Palmas is injured while Egypt-based Junior Ajayi, is also unavailable because of his inability to secure visa into Poland.

Ajayi who earned his first senior call-up to the Super Eagles after a number of impressive displays for Al Ahly in the Egyptian league and the CAF Champions League is now expected to link up with his teammates in London this weekend for the Super Eagles second friendly game against Serbia next week Tuesday at The Hive, Canons Park.

Eagles camp for the friendly opened on Monday with six players namely, Williams Troost Ekong, Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Alex Iwobi, Leon Balogun and Brian Idowu as the early birds.

However, full training began with the arrival of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson Echiejile, Stephen Eze, Abdullahi Shehu and Chidozie Awaziem, midfielders Joel Obi, John Ogu, Ogenyi Onazi, Uche Agbo and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses yesterday.

Nigeria-based goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi are expected to arrive camp today.

The team trained twice yesterday, with the same schedule for today, before Thursday’s training at match time inside the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw.

The match kicks off at 8.45pm (Nigeria and Poland are on same time zone) on Friday.

Friday’s showdown inside the 43,000-capacity stadium formally opens the first phase of the Super Eagles’ preparation for the 21st FIFA World Cup finals, taking place in Russia between June 14 and July 15 this year.

After Tuesday’s game with Serbia in London, the three-time African champions will play a send-forth match against the Democratic Republic of Congo in Nigeria, before flying back to London for a prestige clash with England’s Three Lions at Wembley on June 2.

Four days later, Eagles come up against the Czech Republic at their final training camp in Austria, with another friendly game on the cards before the squad jets out to the World Cup finals on June 11.

Nigeria’s team base camp at the FIFA World Cup finals is located in Yessentuki, Stavropol territory in the southern region of Russia.