Osimhen, Ighalo make Eagles’ squad against Black Stars
• Onazi, Six Others On Standby List
• Okala Defends Maduka Okoye
Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen and Al-Hilal FC of Saudi Arabia forward, Odion Jude Ighalo, are back in the Super Eagles squad for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff against the Black Stars of Ghana. Also listed in the provisional squad released by Technical Adviser, Augustine Eguavoen yesterday are Watford FC of England striker, Emmanuel Dennis and Leicester City duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman.
Captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forwards Moses Simon also made the Super Eagles’ provisional list of 32 for the cracker against the Black Stars.
Also called up are goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Daniel Akpeyi, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, as well as forward Samuel Chukwueze.
Leicester City forward Ademola Lookman, recently cleared by FIFA to switch international allegiance and former U17 World Cup star Akinkunmi Amoo are officially called for the first time, while defender Calvin Bassey and forward Emmanuel Dennis return to the fold of the three –time African champions.
Taiwo Awoniyi and Peter Olayinka, defender Chidozie Awaziem and long-time absentee Ogenyi Onazi are in a seven-man standby list.
The camp opens in Abuja on March 21, with a 24 –man final list for the two big games to be released at a later date.
Nigeria take on Ghana in the 20,000 –capacity Cape Coast Sports Stadium as from 7.30pm on Friday, March 25, with the reverse leg set for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, March 29 as from 6pm. The winner over two legs will earn one of Africa’s five tickets to the 22nd FIFA World Cup finals, scheduled for 14th November – 18th December this year in Qatar.
Meanwhile, former Green Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala, has said that Maduka Okoye should be not be blamed entirely for Super Eagles round of 16 defeat to Tunisia at the last AFCON tournament in Cameroun.
Many Nigerian fans are yet to forgive goalkeeper Okoye for the defeat, but Okala, who was undoubtedly the most famous sports figure on the African continent between 1970 and early 80s, told The Guardian in a telephone chat that what happened to Okoye in Garoua could happen to any other goalkeeper.
Okala, a hero in Lagos ’73 All African Games squad, 1980 African Cup of Nations team, as well as member of the 1977 Africa Cup-Winners’ Cup Rangers International FC team said: “I watched the match, and I feel Okoye’s view was blocked.
He did his best, and we have to give him and the entire team the support they need to beat Ghana.”