Onuachu Gets Eagles Late Call up as French Clubs Hold on to Simon, Kalu

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By Duro Ikhazuagbe

KRC Genk top striker Paul Onuachu has again been handed a late call up to the Super Eagles camp following the uncertainty surrounding the homecoming of two of Nigeria’s players from the French Ligue 1.

Onuachu who has scored 25 goals in 29 Belgian Jupiler league games for Genk is the country’s leading marksman in Europe but does not enjoy good rating of Super Eagles handlers.

He was earlier listed on standby when Gernot Rohr released his 24-man squad for the double header against Benin Republic and Lesotho with clubless Ahmed Musa as one of the invited players.

But yesterday, the Nigeria Football Federation announced the invitation of Onuachu on its social media Twitter handle, less than 10 days to the March 27 clash with the Squirrels of Benin in Port Novo.

NFF’s statement reads: “Following the uncertainty regarding the availability of players based in France (due to Covid-19 laws guiding the country), Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr has extended invitation to KRC Genk striker Paul Onuachu. Henry Onyekuru was earlier called up to replace injured Samuel Kalu.”

Onuachu’s call up must have been precipitated by Nantes’ refusal to release their Nigerian forward, Moses Simon.

Yesterday, FC Nantes announced they will not release Moses Simon for the trip to Nigeria for the AFCON 2022 qualifiers involving the Super Eagles due to the travel restrictions caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Nantes said in the press statement that their Moses Simon (Nigeria) as well as Kalifa Coulibaly, Charles Traore (Mali) and Jean-Charles Caselletto (Cameroon) will not be allowed to leave France for the AFCON qualifiers.

“Like several clubs in France, FC Nantes will not release its selected international players for matches outside of Europe during the next international break, scheduled for the end of March” , the press statement said.

The Ligue 1 club insisted that the absence of health guarantees in accordance with the requirements of the French government in force to date, FC Nantes will not be able to release its internationals outside the limits of the European area.

Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu was the other France-based player named on the main squad and has since been replaced by Henry Onyekuru of Galatasaray after he suffered a thigh injury at the weekend.

Nigeria’s opponents in the AFCON qualifier, Benin Republic failed to name their squad as scheduled on Tuesday.

Squirrels’ French Coach Michel Dussuyer was forced to move announcement of a final squad for these matches to Thursday (today) because of the uncertainties surrounding the availability of their top foreign pros from the French Ligue1.

Both bottom of the league club Dijon and Brest had similarly denied their African stars the permission to travel out of France for international duties.