Amapakabo List Nine Foreign-based Players for U23 AFCON Tourney

Imama Amapakabo

Femi Solaja
Ahead of the forth coming AFCON-23 Olympic football qualifying tournament, Coach Imama Amapakabo has listed nine foreign-based players among his preliminary invitees for the event slated for next month.

The tournament, which will come up in Egypt is to serve as the qualifier for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and as demanded by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), all coaches are mandated to forward their list of players for documentation ahead of their departure for the tournament.

A top official in the Glass House in Abuja confirmed yesterday that as many as nine players based abroad were included in the list with the coach keen on having a blend with home- based players who have been inactive for months because the domestic league season is yet to commence.

Although the full list of the nine players for the event is yet to be made public, the NFF through its Head of Communication, Ademola Olajire disclosed that some of the players had already joined the camp in readiness for the competition in Egypt.

Among the confirmed players are; Tom Dele-Bashiru, Orji Okonkwo and Kelechi Nwakali who captained the U-17 national team to World Cup glory in Chile four years ago.

Okonkwo, who plays for Canadian side, Montreal Impact joined the rest of the team on Monday as the overseas-based professionals continued to stream into camp ahead of this week’s departure to Egypt.

His arrival has given Head Coach lmama Amapakabo and his assistants more attacking options ahead of the tournament.

The Olympic Eagles are expected to the leave shores of the country tomorrow for the tournament which holds 8th – 22nd November in Cairo, with Nigeria playing in Group B which also has Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia and South Africa.

Another overseas based professional in camp is Tom Dele-Bashiru, who featured for the U20 National Team, Flying Eagles, at the FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Poland in the summer.

The 20 -year old midfielder plies his trade with English Premier League side Watford FC, and was born in the city of Manchester, England to Nigerian parents. He scored Nigeria’s third goal as the Flying Eagles obliterated Qatar 4-0 in their opening game of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.

Nigeria won the last edition of the tournament and went on to win bronze at the Rio Olympics football event in 2016. The Olympic Eagles will start their campaign on the 9th of November with their first group game against Côte D Ivoire which is a day after host, Egypt play the opening match.

The Amamakabo team will subsequently take on South Africa and Zambia in their other group games on the 12th and 15th of November respectively.