The head coach of the Nigeria U-23 national team Samson Siasia has selected Chile U-17 World Cup highest goal scorer Victor Osihmen and 20 other players to represent Nigeria at this month’s Africa U-23 Cup of Nations coming up in Senegal, the Nigeria Football Federation has announced.
Osimhen replaces Granada’s Isaac Success, who was initially included but was not released by the club embroiled in a La Liga relegation battle.
According to the list released by Siasia in Banjul, after the team’s second friendly game against the Gambian U-20 national team, Baby Scorpions, the Chile revelation will be joined by captain of the team and Turkey-based defensive midfielder Azubuike Okechukwu who is leading a list of three foreign-based players which includes Liverpool’s Taiwo Awoniyi and CS Sfaxien of Tunisia’s Ajayi Junior.
From the Nigerian league, Rangers of Enugu goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, Warri Wolves’ Oghenekaro Etebo, Bayelsa United’s Tonbara Tiongoli, Sincere Seth, Segun Oduduwa and Ndifreke Effiong were all selected, while there were some new faces like Seun Olulayo, Godspower Aniefiok, Kufre Ebong, Zaradeen Bello amongst others.
Addressing the dropped players, Siasia told them not to feel discouraged at being dropped, but to see their dropping as a call for them to work harder for the Olympic Games proper of the team qualifies.
“I feel sad telling you guys to go, but the truth is that only 21 players will have to make the trip to Senegal, and these selected ones are those the technical crew have seen to be able to give us an Olympic ticket in Senegal. Don’t feel discouraged, go back to your clubs and keep on working on your game, you will have your chance to be part of the team,” Siasia said.
Meanwhile the U-23 Eagles on Monday evening at the Brikama Boxbar Stadium were held to a 1-1 draw by the Gambian U-20 national team.
The Nigeria U-23s captained by Oghenekaro Etebo dominated the game from the blast of the referees whistle, but the resolute defence of the Baby Scorpions held their ground to ensure that the first half ended goalless.
On resumption of the second half, Siasia brought in Osimhen for Kufre Ebong, Bature Yaro for Usman Mohammed, Zaradeen Bello for Chizoba Amaefule, Junior Ajayi for Tonbara Tiongoli, and these changes inspired the team as they took total control of the game to the admiration of all present and not long after scored through Stanley Dimgba, but the center referee ruled it off for an infringement.
The U-23 Eagles continued their dominance and in the 53rd minute, Godspower Aniefiok was fouled while he was goal-bound by the Gambian goalkeeper and Captain Etebo converted from the spot.
Minutes later it was the turn of the Gambians to be gifted a penalty as Ndifreke Effiong handled the ball in his box and the resultant penalty was converted by Pa Omar Babou.
Impressed with the tough opposition presented by the Baby Scorpions Siadia requested for a rematch on Wednesday before the team departs for Senegal.
The team is expected to depart for Dakar, Senegal on Thursday, while their first game will be on Sunday against Algeria.
The full squad
1. Emmanuel Daniel
2. Yusuf Mohammed
3. Emmanuel Iwu
4. Segun Oduduwa
5. Sincere Seth
6. Azubuike Okechukwu
7. Ajayi Junior
8. Oghenekaro Etebo
9. Taiwo Awoniyi
10. Usman Mohammed
11. Ndifreke Effiong
12. Chukwuebuka Iroha
13. Stanley Dimgba
14. Godspower Aniefiok
15. Bature Yaro
16. Zaradeen Bello
17. Amaefule Chizoba
18. Seun Olulayo
19. Tiongoli Tonbara
20. Kufre Ebong
21. Victor Osimhen