SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has invited 24 players to camp for the forthcoming African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone taking place later this month with a surprise recall for Wigan Athletic defender Leon Balogun.
On March 24, the Eagles take on the Leone Stars at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba and four days later will play the return leg in Freetown. Coach Rohr has named an ambitious squad including out-of-favour team captain Ahmed Musa and several new faces including defender Kingsley Ehizibue, who plays fir FC Koln in Germany and Cyril Dessers, the in-form striker who plies his trade with Heracles in Holland.
Other than that, there are few other surprises in the squad that includes three goalkeepers, eight defenders, five midfielders and eight forwards. As expected vice-captain William Ekong and veteran defender Kenneth Omeruo are in the squad, as are the likes of Ola Aina, Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen.
Among those recalled to the squad after recent absences are Oghene Etebo of Getafe in Spain, Abdullahi Shehu of Bursaspor in Turkey and Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City in England. Number one goalkeeper Francis Uzoho is still recovering from injury, so has not been called up and neither has his former Golden Eaglets colleague Dele Alampasu who has just joined Ventspils in the Latvian league but is yet to play as their season will not resume until Friday March 13.
Victory in both games will virtually guarantee Nigeria a spot at the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for Cameroon early next year. It will make their remaining two games away to Benin Republic in Porto Novo in June and a home tie against Lesotho in early September mere formalities.
Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)
Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Wigan Athletic, England); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Kingsley Ehizibue (FC Koln, Germany)
Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Etebo Oghenekaro (Getafe FC, Spain); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Joseph Ayodele Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)
Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Cyril Dessers (Heracles Almelo, The Netherlands); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France)