In-form striker Paul Onuachu did not make Gernot Rohr’s list of invited players for this month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho as busybuddiesng.com revealed on Monday but Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa, currently without a club, made the squad of 24 players called up by the NFF on Tuesday.
Busybuddiesng.com revealed that Onuachu, Nigeria’s leading scorer in Europe this season with 26 goals in all competitions, made his displeasure clear to Rohr about being placed on a ‘stand by list’, in a conversation prior to the release of the list.
Almeria forward Sadiq Umar who has 22 goals in all competition receives a first call up as we also revealed as does Enyimba goalkeeper John Noble but Lorient forward Terem Moffi was placed on the reserved list.
There had been plenty of speculation about whether Musa should still be part of any national team squads after being without a club since leaving Saudi side Al Nassr last October, but Rohr has apparently decided the utility of his captain to the squad outstrips his lack of football.
Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho also returns for the first time since sustaining an injury against Brazil in 2019, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Victor Osimhen have also been called up.
Nigeria, top of the Group E log with eight points (one ahead of Benin Republic and five more than third-placed Sierra Leone), play the Squirrels away at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday, 27th March and will lock horns with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos three days later. Both are the concluding games of the qualifying series.
Also included are defenders Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Olaoluwa Aina, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze.
Seven players, including long–time goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, are on standby.
Nigeria require just a point to seal their place in Cameroon but could earn a ticket to the finals before kick-off in Porto Novo, should Lesotho and Sierra Leone end their encounter in Maseru in a stalemate. The result would be known before kick-off in Porto Novo.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosia, Cyprus); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Unattached); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Sadiq Umar (Almeria FC, Spain); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Girondins Bordeaux, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)
Standby: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Michael Olise (Reading FC, England); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors)