Officials of the Super Eagles were pleasantly surprised yesterday when the bulk of the players invited for this weekend’s Cameroon 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa arrived the team’s camp ahead of today’s opening training session.
The early birds are Henry Onyekuru, Kelechi Iheanacho, returnee Mikel Agu, Theophilus Afelokhai and Moses Simon.
Afelokhai is making his second coming to the Eagles having been involved in the squad when the late Stephen Keshi was head coach. He came in as replacement for first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, who has been ruled out by injury.
Onyekuru is returning to the team as replacement for the injured Odion Ighalo after missing the games against Libya. Agu has not played for Nigeria since he was omitted from the team to the Russia 2018 World Cup.
A Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) official told The Guardian yesterday that Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Ola Aina, Jamilu Collins and Sunday Adeleye are also in camp.
Others expected today are William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Daniel Akpeyi and Brian Idowu.
Wilfred Ndidi is out of the game having received two yellow cards in the qualifying series.
Super Eagles are expected to fly to Johannesburg on Thursday evening for the match scheduled for Saturday.
The team’s official training programme begins today at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, but according to the Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, Thursday’s session would be closed to observers.
Ibitoye said the team would fly to Johannesburg aboard a chartered flight at 5.00 p.m. and return immediately after the game to prepare for next Tuesday’s friendly against Uganda at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.
“We are focused on beating South Africa and I am sure we will get the desired result.”
He revealed that the team would train twice daily from today until they leave for South Africa.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter, has said that he holds no fear over facing Nigeria at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
According to timeslive.co.za, the Briton said he expects Nigeria to have vengeance on their minds when they arrive in Johannesburg after unexpectedly going down 0-2 to Bafana Bafana in Uyo in his maiden match in June last year.
‘‘We do have Nigeria first‚ in the small matter of an African Nations Cup qualifier‚” he said yesterday.
‘‘Everybody knows the list of injuries that we have had. Everybody knows what I said in the first press conference (a week ago) that despite that (the injuries) I want to speak about the players that we do have because even though we respect Nigeria, we do not fear them.
‘‘I think we still have enough talent‚ enough desire and if we can structure a game plan in the next three or four days‚ I think by the time we run out onto the FNB Stadium we would be confident‚ we would not be complacent‚ because Nigeria have just come from a (2018) World Cup (in Russia).
‘‘They are undefeated since we beat them the last time (in the first qualifier in June last year) and they will certainly want to wreak their revenge.
‘‘So‚ we will be ready and I still believe that we have a very good chance of getting the result that we need.”
Mo’ Salah Refuses Man Of The Match Award, Gives It To James Milner
Mo’ Salah refused to take the Man of the Match award given to him for his performance against Bournemouth, he gave it to Milner instead.
The Egyptian star bagged a brilliant hat-trick at the Vitality Stadium to take Liverpool to the top of the table for at least a few hours before Manchester City play away at Chelsea but although he was voted the Man of the Match, Salah wouldn’t take it off James Milner.
Instead, in his post-match interview with Sky Sports after the 4-0 win, he told his captain to keep the award to mark his 500th Premier League appearance.
An absolute class act and a wonderful tribute from Salah to his teammate.
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