By Victor Kanayo
Up to 16 foreign-based players have been invited to Nigeria’s team camp ahead of this month’s U23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final qualifying fixture against Guinea.
Top among the invitees is the inform Gent of Belgium striker Gift Orban.
The latest floodgate of invitation was confirmed by Nigeria’s U23 Head Coach Salisu Yusuf in a press statement by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Saturday.
The Olympic Eagles as the team is fondly called, trade tackles with their Guinean counterparts in a first leg encounter scheduled for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja from 4pm (Nigerian time) on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
Five days later, the Nigerian side will be at Complexe Sportif Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan from 7pm Morocco time on Tuesday, March 28.
Guinea does not have any venue approved in the country for international matches.
“Yusuf’s list of invitees is headed by team captain Success Makanjuola, whose two converted spot kicks against Tanzania earned the 1996 Olympic gold-medallists passage to this final round.
“There are also midfielder Abiodun Ogunniyi and Bello Babatunde.
“As happened against the Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in October last year, Makanjuola is expected to lead the charge against the Guineans in Abuja on Wednesday, perhaps alongside Orban, with Babatunde and Ogunniyi (nicknamed Omo-Jesu) pulling the strings from the middle.
“The winner on aggregate will qualify for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco later this year, at which Africa’s flag bearers at next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament will emerge.
“Guinea’s delegation for the encounter in Abuja is expected to arrive in Nigeria on Saturday evening,” the statement added.
The Federation listed the complete names of players to include Success Makanjuola (FK Liepaja, Latvia); Bello Babatunde (Future FC, Egypt); Isaiah Ejeh (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Abiodun Ogunniyi (FK Auda, Latvia); Monsuru Opeyemi Abdullahi (FC Vizela, Portugal); Omole Akinyinka Olaoluwakitan (Athletic Newham, UK); Owen Tega Udoh (UD San Sebastian Reyes, Spain); Azeez Temitope Yusuf (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Charles Uba (Lillestrom FC, Norway); Simon Omon (Clube Operation Desportivo, Portugal); Ihekuna Maximillian Ugochukwu (FC Sfintul Gheorghe Suruceni, Moldova); Chukwudi Goodluck Igbokwe (KAA Gent, Belgium); Abass Saidi (Zagalata FC, Azerbaijan); Ibrahim Buhari (IF Elfsborg, Sweden); Gift Emmanuel Orban (KAA Gent, Belgium); Samuel Amadi (Eramica Cleopatra, Egypt).