NLC Strike Stops Five Super Eagles from Joining Teammates in Uyo

*Lookman, Maduka, Iwobi to arrive from UK today *S’Africa to fly in tomorrow 

Duro Ikhazuagbe 

Super Eagles preparations for two crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic appears to have been hit by the ongoing nationwide strike embarked upon by organised labour in the country.

Yesterday, the first day of the indefinite strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress, five key members of the Super Eagles who were due to join their teammates in Uyo could not connect flights from their various destinations to the Akwa Ibom capital as aviation personnel joined the stay at home order of the labour movement.

Sources in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who did not want to be quoted confirmed the matter to THISDAY yesterday evening.

“As I speak with you (at 6pm), five of our players are presently stranded in Abuja and Lagos and cannot connect flights already booked to Uyo to join the Super Eagles camp,” observed the top level football official.

Players affected by the strike include; Semi Ajayi, Paul Onuachu, Frank Onyeka, Calvin Bassey and Bright Osayi-Samuel 

There are also fears in football circles that the ongoing strike embarked upon by the NLC  for better wages by already impoverished Nigerian workers may pose problems to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana from also reaching Uyo.

The South African delegation is due in Nigeria tomorrow, June 5,2024 with accommodation already reserved for the team at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel in Ikot-Ekpene.

Unless arrangements have been made to fly the contingent straight into Uyo from Johannesburg, any stop over in Lagos is likely to pose problem to the South Africans making the barely one hour flight into Uyo if the strike persists by Wednesday.

According to NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, a total of 15 Super Eagles players trained on Monday morning in Uyo, with Head Coach Finidi George telling the players afterwards that the three points at stake in Friday’s encounter must end up in Nigeria’s kitty.

“While the quintet (three in Abuja and two in Lagos) is being expected at the team’s Ibom Hotel and Resorts, the trio of midfielder Alex Iwobi, goalkeeper Maduka Okoye and forward Ademola Lookman are expected to arrive in the country today,” observed Olajire yesterday evening.

There was no training session on Monday evening, as the players get countenance intensive sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, hopefully with a full house.

Meanwhile, South Africa’sHead Coach,Hugo Broos, has been forced to make one change to his already selected 23-member squad due to injury.

Grant Kekana has withdrawn from the Bafana Bafana squad due to injury, and he has been replaced by Kaizer Chiefs defender Given Msimango.

Kekana suffered an injury in Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates where he only lasted for the first half before being replaced by Junior Mendieta.

Now, Msimango will get a chance to raise his hand and convince Broos to select him for future Bafana Bafana matches.

He is the only player representing Chiefs in the current Bafana Bafana squad – Msimango was also in the 36-man preliminary squad.

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