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Saturday, May 30, 2020

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Nigeria invites Arsenal youngster Kelechi Nwakali to Super Eagles squad

Arsenal youngster Kelechi Nwakali has been included in an official Nigeria squad for the first time.

The 20-year-old midfielder is on the books of Arsenal but has been loaned to Portuguese side Porto, where he is set to play with their B team.

Nwakali did play for a Nigeria XI in a friendly against Spanish club Atletico Madrid in May.

The Super Eagles’ coach Gernot Rohr has named a 24-man squad for the 7 September Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Seychelles and his first since the World Cup.

Nigeria failed to get past the group stage of the World Cup in Russia as they lost 2-0 to Croatia before beating Iceland by the same scoreline and finally losing 2-1 to Argentina.

Nigeria will be without two of their most experienced players for the tie with captain John Mikel Obi recovering from injury while Victor Moses has retired from international duty.

“Mikel only has only just returned from a knock and needs to be allowed to regain his full fitness at his club,” Rohr explained.

In total 18 of the World Cup squad have been recalled by Rohr – the others to miss out are Elderson Echeijile, Shehu Abdullahi and Tyronne Ebuehi.

There are also first-time call-ups for new Bordeaux signing Samuel Kalu as well as defenders Jamilu Collins, who plays in the German third tier for Paderborn, and Semi Ajayi of English Championship side Rotherham United.

Rohr is also hoping to play a friendly against Saudi Arabia after the Seychelles qualifier.

He confirmed that assistant coach Salisu Yusuf is not part of his team as he faces a bribery investigation.

The German also announced that former international goalkeeper Carl Ikeme will be part of his coaching team in the future but will not be in place for the Seychelles tie.

The former Wolverhampton keeper decided in July to end his playing career after a battle with acute leukaemia, he announced June that he was in “complete remission”.

Nigeria began their campaign to qualify for the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon with surprise 2-0 loss to visiting South Africa in June last year.

Libya are currently top of Group E on goal difference thanks to their 5-1 win over Seychelles, the top two from the four-team pool will qualify for next year’s finals.

Nigeria squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa)

Defenders: William Troost-Ekong (Udinese, Italy), Leon Balogun (Brighton, England), Chidozie Awaziem (Porto, Portugal), Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Ola Aina (Torino, Italy), Jamilu Colllins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham, England), Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Joel Obi (Chievo, Italy), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Isreal), Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City, England) Kelechi Nwakali (Porto B, Portugal)

Strikers: Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr, Saudi Arabia), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China) Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone, Italy) Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, England), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray, Turkey) Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux, France) Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Standby: Uche Agbo (Standard Liege, Belgium), Stephen Eze (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria); Musa Muhammed (HNK Gorica, Croatia); Blessing Eleke (FC Luzern, Switzerland)

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