Former captain John Obi Mikel was again left out of Nigeria’s soccer squad‚ signalling the potential end of his international career as coach Gernot Rohr unveiled 23 players to face SA in Johannesburg in just under three weeks.
Obi Mikel‚ formerly with Chelsea and now playing his club football in China‚ also missed September’s two matches against Libya in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign and was again ignored by the coach‚ who is apparently aiming to freshen up the squad since the World Cup finals in Russia.
With Victor Moses having called a premature halt to his international career and Wilfred Ndidi suspended for the Group Equalifier at Soccer City on November 17‚ Nigeria are missing three key elements as they get ready to face SA in a match in which the winning side will book their place at the finals in Cameroon in June 2019.
The 23-man squad named by Rohr is spearheaded by Odion Ighalo — who scored five goals in October’s two qualifiers against Libya‚ which the Super Eagles won 4-0 at home and 3-2 away to go top of the standings — and includes four players from the English Premier League‚ as well as Chippa United goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.
Rohr handed a first call-up to Samuel Chukwueze‚ the 19-year-old striker who recently made his debut for La Liga side Villarreal. He recalled Victor Osimhen‚ who has scored six goals in six games for Charleroi in Belgium‚ but has not been capped since June 2017.
Defender Adeleye Aniyikaye from IfeanyiUbah is one of just two home-based players in the squad and also a surprise. But Aniyikaye is seen as one for the future and is likely only to play after the match against Bafana when Nigeria take on Uganda in a friendly on November 20.
Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor‚ Turkey) and Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor‚ Turkey) are out through injury while Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto‚ Portugal) as well as Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray‚ Turkey) have both been dropped.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)‚ Ikechu kw u Ezenwa (Enyimba)‚ Francis Uzoho (Elche)
Defenders: Ola Aina (Torino)‚ Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United)‚ Adeley e Aniyikaye (IfenayiUbah)‚ Leon Balogun (Brighton)‚ Jamilu Collins (Paderborn)‚ William Ekong Troost (Udinese)‚ Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow)‚ Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes)
Midfielders: Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal)‚ Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City)‚ John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva)
Forwards: Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)‚ Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai)‚ Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)‚ Al ex Iwobi (Arsenal)‚ Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux)‚ Ahmed Musa (Al Nasr)‚ Victor Osimhen (Charleroi)‚ Moses Simon (Levante)‚ Isaac Success (Watford).