The Super Eagles’ preparations for Thursday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone continued yesterday, Sunday, as 24 of the 27 invited players trained in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Friendly matches against Mexico (in Dallas on 28th May) and against Ecuador in New Jersey (2nd June) kickstarted the preparations as the Eagles seek a 20th appearance at Africa’s flagship tournament, this time holding next year summer in Cote d’Ivoire.
With Head Coach José Santos Peseiro taking full charge, Skipper Ahmed Musa led the playing body 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 yesterday, only defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Calvin Bassey, and midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo were being expected in camp.
During breakfast and lunch periods, Peseiro was able to meet and familiarize with invited players, who were unable to make it to the United States for the friendlies, including skipper Musa, defenders Sanusi and Balogun, midfielder Etebo and forwards Chukwueze, Umar and Lookman.
He also met with defender Omeruo, midfielder Onyeka and forward Osimhen, as well as Israel-based goal-tender Adeleye, who were not invited to the friendlies in America but have been called 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 will fly to Marrakech for a Day 2 game against São Tomé and Príncipe that will take place on Monday, 13th of June.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football has appointed Ivorian 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 will be the match commissioner while Serge Paulin Samuel from Burkina Faso will serve as referee assessor.
SUPER EAGLES FOR SIERRA LEONE AND SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Adebayo Adeleye (Hapoel Jerusalem, Israel)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Sani Faisal (Katsina United);
Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain)
Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Innocent Bonke (FC Lorient, France); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, The Netherlands); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England)