The Super Eagles’ preparations for Thursday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone continued on Sunday as 24 of the 27 invited players trained in Abuja.
Friendly matches against Mexico (in Dallas May 28) and against Ecuador in New Jersey (June 2) kick-started the preparations as the Eagles seek a 20th appearance at Africa’s flagship tournament, scheduled for Ivory Coast in 2023.
With head coach, José Peseiro, taking full charge, captain Ahmed Musa led the players that included goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Adewale Adeyinka and Adebayo Adeleye, and defenders Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, Leon Balogun, Sani Faisal and Kenneth Omeruo. There were also midfielders Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Innocent Bonke and Frank Onyeka, and forwards Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Cyriel Dessers, Ademola Lookman, Sadiq Umar, Terem Moffi and Emmanuel Dennis.
As at lunchtime on Sunday, only defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Calvin Bassey, and midfielder Joe Aribo were expected in camp.
During breakfast and lunch periods, Peseiro was able to meet and familiarise with invited players who were unable to make it to the United States of America for the friendlies, including Musa, defenders Sanusi and Balogun, midfielder Etebo and forwards Chukwueze, Umar and Lookman.
He also met with defender Omeruo, midfielder Onyeka, forward Osimhen and Israel-based goal-tender Adeleye, who were all not invited for the friendlies in America but were called up for the AFCON fray.
The Eagles confront familiar foes, Sierra Leone, at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Thursday evening, in one of the Day 1 matches of Group A of the qualification series. On Saturday, they fly to Marrakech for a Day 2 game against São Tomé and Príncipe on June 13.
In the same vein, the Confederation of African Football has appointed Ivoirian officials to take charge of Thursday’s encounter in Abuja, with Ibrahim Kalilou Traore as referee. His compatriots Adou Desire N’goh, Nouhou Ouattara and Kouassi Francois Biro will serve as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively.
Moukaila Nassam Adam from Ghana is the match commissioner while Serge Paulin Samuel from Burkina Faso is the referee assessor.
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia, Cyprus); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Adebayo Adeleye (H. Jerusalem, Israel)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino, Italy); William Ekong (Watford, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (Porto, Portugal); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor, Turkey); Semi Ajayi (West Brom, England); Calvin Bassey (Rangers, Scotland); Sani Faisal (Katsina United); Leon Balogun (Rangers, Scotland); Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes, Spain).
Midfielders: Joe Aribo (Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke, England); Innocent Bonke (Lorient, France); Frank Onyeka (Brentford, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain); Moses Simon (Nantes, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli, Italy); Cyriel Dessers (Genk, Belgium); Ademola Lookman (Leipzig, Germany); Sadiq Umar (Almeria, Spain); Terem Moffi (Lorient, France); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford, England).