The Super Eagles’ preparations for Thursday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone’s Leone Stars continued on Sunday as 24 of the 27 invited players trained in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Friendly matches against Mexico (in Dallas on the 28e May) and against Equator in New Jersey (2n/a June) kicked off preparations as Eagles seek 20e appearance at Africa’s flagship tournament, this time organized in the summer of 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire.
With head coach José Santos Peseiro in charge, Ahmed Musa led the team of players which included goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Adewale Adeyinka and Adebayo Adeleye, and defenders Ola Aina, William Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem , Semi 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.
Only defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Calvin Bassey, as well as midfielder Joe Aribo were expected at the camp as at lunchtime on Sunday.
Peseiro was able to meet and familiarize himself with the guest players who were unable to travel to the United States for the friendlies, including Musa, Sanusi, Balogun, Etebo, Chukwueze, Umar and Lookman.
He also met Omeruo, Onyeka and Osimhen, as well as Israel-based goalkeeper Adeleye, who weren’t invited to the friendlies in America but were called up for the AFCON qualifiers.
The Eagles will face familiar foes Sierra Leone at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Thursday night in one of the Group A matchday one matches of the qualifying series. On Saturday, they will fly to Marrakech for a Day 2 match against São Tomé and Príncipe which will take place on Monday 13e 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 central referee. His compatriots Adou Désiré N’goh, Nouhou Ouattara and Kouassi François Biro will serve as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively.
Moukaila Nassam Adam from Ghana will serve as match commissioner while Serge Paulin Samuel from Burkina Faso will serve as referee assessor.
SQUAD LIST FOR SIERRA LEONE AND SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE MATCHES
Guardians: 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)
Attackers: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Victor Osimhen (SSC Naples, Italy); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, Netherlands); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England)