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Eagles to open 2017 with Cote d’Ivoire friendly

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Nigeria's squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Nigeria’s squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

‘Iheanacho’s Man City place assured despite Jesus’ imminent arrival’

As part of efforts to keep the Super Eagles in tip-top shape ahead of the remaining Russia 2016 World Cup qualifiers, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is arranging an international friendly game for the team against reigning African champions, Cote d’Ivoire early next year, reports owngoalnigeria.com

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, confirmed that talks are already at an advanced stage for the game in London.

“We have lined up series of friendly games for the Super Eagles, already that of Egypt and Senegal is confirmed, and currently we at an advanced stage with Cote d’Ivoire,” he said.

“The aim is to keep them fit for the upcoming World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Cameroun next year. We need games for our team to be in top shape for the tie.

“We are leading the group but it’s just two games, so we don’t need to be carried away yet. We are leaving no stone un-turned in our bid to be at the World Cup 2018 in Russia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Manager, Pep Guardiola, has assured that the impending arrival to the club in January will not push Kelechi Iheanacho out of the club on loan in January.

The £27m Brazilian is expected to push Iheanacho further down the pecking order at the Etihad, where he has started just three Premier League game this season, from the six times he has played in the league.

When asked what would have to happen to get the 20-year-old more first team opportunities, Guardiola said: “Change the coach maybe! Of course, he deserves to play, but there are many, many others who deserve to play too.

“Our job is so uncomfortable for these kinds of decisions. Normally when these guys don’t train good, when they are not nice guys with his team-mates, it doesn’t matter, but that is not the case with Kele.”

Despite Jesus’ imminent arrival, Guardiola is adamant Iheanacho will get opportunities.

“My advice is keep going, keep fighting, sooner or later everything is coming back, and of course he’s going to have his minutes,” he said.

“Until now he played good, but in the big teams sometimes that happens. You can play just 11 players and that’s all.”


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