Captain John Mikel Obi and assistant captain Ahmed Musa lead the list of a 25-man provisional squad invited by coach Gernot Rohr for the Super Eagles of Nigeria ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign in Egypt next month.
The Super Eagles’ list for Africa’s showpiece football event, which holds from June 21 to July 19, was released by Ademola Olajire, Director of Communications, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), on Tuesday.
The team is largely made up of the players who prosecuted the qualifiers.
However, there had been speculations around the invitation and availability of Mikel, who last played for the team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Also included on the list is Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho, who was axed for the last game of the competition’s qualifiers against Seychelles by Rohr due to poor club form.
Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa retain their place in the squad, as well as defenders William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun.
Iheanacho’s club-mate, Wilfred Ndidi, was also invited and is expected to marshall the team’s midfield, while Odion Ighalo is expected to lead a young but deadly set of attackers.
Olajire also explained that Rohr had put six players on standby, including Russian-based defender, Bryan Idowu, and the duo of Ikouwem Utin and Valentine Ozornwafor, who have also been named in Nigeria’s final 21 for the FIFA U20 World Cup starting in Poland next week.
All invited players and officials are to report at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Asaba on Sunday, 2 June, ahead of the friendly with the Warriors of Zimbabwe at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State, on Saturday, 8 June, the NFF spokesperson said.
He added that the team will depart for Egypt on Sunday, June 9, aboard a chartered aircraft, for the final training camp in the city of Ismailia and tackle Africa’s number one –ranked team, Senegal in their final pre-AFCON friendly on Sunday, June 16.
Rohr is to prune down the squad to the officially accredited number of 23 players before the start of the tournament.
Nigeria has been drawn in Group B with Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar in the tournament.
Full list of players
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Middlesbrough FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alexander Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)
Standby: Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Ikouwem Utin (Enyimba FC); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal); Junior Ajayi (Al Ahly, Egypt); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba FC)