AFCON 2022 QUALIFIER Osimhen, Etebo, Akpeyi, Others Back for Battle with Sierra Leone

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By Duro Ikhazuagbe

Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen; Oghenekaro Etebo of Galatasaray of Turkey and Kaizer Chiefs’ Daniel Akpeyi were among the list of 24 Super Eagles players Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, called up for next month’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.

While Osimhen missed early this month’s friendlies with African champions Algeria and Tunisia in Austria due to Covid-19 scare in Napoli camp, Etebo and Akpeyi have been sidelined as Rohr continues his experimentation with new players.

Also recalled to the team is Glasgow Rangers’ Joe Ayodele-Aribo. The young lad signaled his new form with a brilliant goal for the Scottish Premiership team at the weekend.

Akpeyi’s return is also expected to spark rivalry for the number one shirt with Sparta Rotterdam safe hands, Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho who is listed as one of the seven players on stand by list. Uzoho is just returning to action after one year on the sideline due to injury.

In place of Uzoho in the 24-man list, Rohr invited Switzerland–based goalkeeper, Sebastian Osigwe for his first cap with Nigeria.

Usual suspected like Captain Ahmed Musa, defender William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Leon Balogun and Chidozie Awaziem are al in the team for the battle with the Leone Stars.

New boys like defenders Kevin Akpoguma and Zaidu Sanusi, who impressed in the friendlies in Austria, were also handed opportunities to add to their caps.

Alex Iwobi and forwards Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze and Chidera Ejuke were listed in the 24-man team for the trip to Benin City.

Rohr also listed seven players on standby. They including; defender Abdullahi Shehu, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, midfielders Ramon Azeez and Samson Tijani, and forward Paul Onuachu.

The Super Eagles will take on the Leone Stars at the newly refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City on Friday, 13th November before flying to Freetown for the return game on Tuesday, 17th November at the Siaka Stevens Stadium.

According to NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, all the Invited players are expected to report at the Protea Hotel Emotan in Benin City on Monday, 9th November.

Victories in both encounters will all but guarantee Nigeria a slot at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations finals holding in Cameroon.

Meanwhile, Uzoho is thrilled to be back in action again after spending over a year on the sidelines due to injury.

Uzoho copped an injury in Nigeria’s 1-1 friendly draw against the Selecao of Brazil in October 2019.

The Nigeria international made his first appearance of the season as APOEL defeated PAEEK 4-0 in a Cypriot Cup game on Wednesday night.

The 22-year-old took to the social media to celebrate the important victory and his return to action. “After 380 days here I’m back stronger IN CHRIST ALONE.”

Uzoho will look to make his league debut for APOEL against Apollon on Saturday.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Sebastian Osigwe (FC Lugano, Switzerland); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Germany)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray, Turkey); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, Netherlands); Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland, Denmark); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Unattached); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure (Club Brugge, Belgium); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia)

Standby: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); Samson Tijani (TSV Hartberg, Austria); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosia, Cyprus); Ramon Azeez (Granada CF, Spain); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)