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Akpoguma now for Eagles as Rohr invites two youngsters for October friendlies

By Editor
22 September 2020   |   4:15 am
Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, has revealed the decision of Kevin Akpoguma to switch his allegiance to Nigeria, reports

• Lists Iheanacho, Alampasu, two new goalkeepers for matches
Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, has revealed the decision of Kevin Akpoguma to switch his allegiance to Nigeria, reports

Akpoguma, a centre back, was born to a German mother and a Nigerian father and has represented Germany’s U16, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U20 teams, featuring in more than 60 games.

He is, however, still eligible to play for the Super Eagles since he has not represented the European country at senior level.

The centre-back has been with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim since 2015 and made 18 league appearances for the Kraichgauer last season, helping them to finish sixth in the campaign.

The defender played a prominent role in his side’s opening league game of the 2020-21 season against Koln on Saturday.

Rohr explained he has met with the 25-year-old and has revealed his decision to commit his international future to Nigeria.

“It was not my job to convince [Kevin] Akpoguma to come and play for Nigeria,” Rohr told BBC Sport.

“I had a good conversation with him and his family while watching several games in Hoffenheim.

“After the matches, we met and could talk. I presented our projects and I could speak about the team, about this incredible period in the Super Eagles and my vision for the team.

“He was sold on this and would love to be a part of the team and play in big international competitions like the Africa Cup of Nations or even the World Cup.

“We are very happy about the decision of Kevin Akpoguma to switch from Germany to Nigeria. Because he played for Germany at youth levels, the process is not finished yet because Fifa must give the authorisation.”

Nigeria has lined up two friendly games against Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire but the German tactician feels the defender might miss the outings as he awaits Fifa’s approval to his wish.

“He has fulfilled the written request to switch and we only await the good news that he can finally play for us,” Rohr continued.

“It’s too soon to expect him to play our two friendlies in October, but hopefully for the Nations Cup qualifiers in November.”

The likes of Ola Aina, Brian Idowu, Tyronne Ebuehi, Joe Aribo, Maduka Okoye, Kingsley Ehizibue and Cyril Dessers have switched their allegiances to the West Africans since the arrival of Rohr.

Nigeria will continue their quest to feature in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations when they face Sierra Leone in their next qualifying game in November.

The Super Eagles currently lead Group L with six points after securing victories against the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.

Rohr has also confirmed the invitation of former Golden Eaglets captain Samson Tijani and goalkeeper Tobias Lawal for next month’s friendly games against Cote d’Ivoire and Tunisia in Austria.

The two youngsters are based in the European country and Rohr is ready to have them train with his team next month.

Tijani, who captained Nigeria to the 2019 Fifa U17 World Cup in Brazil, is currently plying his trade in the Austrian Bundesliga with Hartberg, whom he joined on a season-long loan from RB Salzburg in August.

For the friendly matches, Rohr called up 25 players and put five others on standby.

In the three–time African champions’ first games this year, as a result of the prolonged global coronavirus pandemic, Rohr listed Ahmed Musa, Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong and Wilfred Ndidi, as well as new brooms Frank Onyeka and Chidera Ejuke.

Former U17 World Cup winning goalkeeper, Dele Alampasu, returns to the group, as well as midfielder Mikel Agu and Portugal–based exciting wing back Zaidu Sanusi.

Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, now in The Netherlands, is heading to Austria as England–based forward Kelechi Iheanacho also returns. Victor Osimhen, now in Italy with Napoli, and another former U17 World Cup winner Samuel Chukwueze are also called.

The Super Eagles, now ranked 29th in the world and third in Africa, will take on the Elephants on October 9 and four days later, will engage the Carthage Eagles, who are second in Africa in the rankings.

Both games have been arranged by the Nigeria Football Federation to prepare the Eagles for the next rounds of 2022 AFCON qualifiers, home and away against Sierra Leone in November.

The full list of players:

Goalkeepers: Dele Alampasu (FK Ventspils, Latvia); Matthew Yakubu (SKF Sered, Slovakia); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

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

Midfielders: Mikel Agu (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland, Denmark); Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasary SK, Turkey); Samson Tijani (TSV Hartberg, Austria)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Cyril Dessers (KRC Genk, Belgium); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia).

Standby: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor, Turkey); Ramon Azeez (Granada CF, Spain); Joshua Maja (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Henry Onyekuru (AS Monaco, France); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, Netherlands).