AFCON 2021: Osimhen, Dennis, Balogun pull out of Nigeria squad
Nigeria strikers Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis have pulled out of the Super Eagles squad for the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced the withdrawal of Osimhen, Dennis, Rangers defender Leon Balogun and Abdullahi Shehu in a revised list for 2022 AFCON.
Osimhen was excluded from the squad after testing positive for COVID-19 while Dennis has unresolved issues with his club Watford. Shehu and Balogun are down with injuries.
The withdrawal of Osimhen paved the way for the inclusion of Henry Onyekwuru with Taiwo Awoniyi replacing Dennis. Zaidu Sanusi and Olisa Ndah replaced Balogun and Shehu in the heart of the Super Eagles defence.
Nigeria, three-time AFCON winners, will confront seven-time and record winners Egypt, Sudan and debutants Guinea Bissau at Garoua, and a clash with the Pharaohs in the group opener on Tuesday, 11 January 2022 means the Eagles must hit the ground at a blistering pace.
Super Eagles coach Augustine Eguavoen selected four goalkeepers, nine defenders, five midfielders and 10 forwards to aim for Nigeria’s fourth AFCON title in Cameroon.
The Nigeria 2022 AFCON team has to the former U17 World Cup-winning captain Kelechi Nwakali and 2016 Olympics star Sadiq Umar.
NFF earlier said all invited players are expected to arrive in camp in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on 29th December, with the UK-based players expected to start arriving on Monday, January 3 2022.
The 33rd AFCON taking place in Cameroon will commence from January 9 to February 6 2022 amid a growing surge of COVID-19 cases globally.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has insisted that the 2021 AFCON will hold despite pressure from external bodies to halt the biggest African football tournament.