Nigeria have named a strong 23-man squad which will face Rwanda in the opening match of the African Nations Championship on January 15, 2018 in Tanger.
Coach Salisu Yusuf revealed his team for the 16-nation championship on Tuesday, with Nigeria pooled in Group C alongside Rwanda, Libya and Equatorial Guinea for the tournament involving home-based teams.
According to Nigerian football federation, the CAF Confederation Cup candidates and seven-time Nigeria league champions Enyimba are the best represented NFPL team in the squad, having contributed five players.
Yusuf has largely opted for players untested at either international and CAF club continental level, with teenage El-Kanemi Warriors left-wing sensation, Nura Mohammed, who is yet to make his professional league debut, top of the list.
The present team is comprised largely of players who impressed at the 2017 Nigeria Professional Football League Super Six and in the training camp which held for a fortnight in Abuja.
Sunday Faleye, Timothy Danladi, Ibrahim Mustapha, Ikouwem Udoh, and Mohammed — a player who was only recently promoted from El-Kanemi Warriors’ feeders during pre-season – represent risky picks by Yusuf, who will be aiming to improve on Nigeria’s group-stage exit last time out.
Goalkeeper and captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Stephen Eze, Kalu Orji Okagbue, and Rabiu Ali are the only players on the squad with prior experience at the tournament.
This represents a sharp contrast from the two previous Nigeria teams named in 2014 and 2016, squads which were dominated by players with full international caps and exposure.
The team of 23 players and their officials are expected to fly out of the country in a few days, to continue preparations in Morocco ahead of Nigeria’s first match of the campaign against Rwanda in Tangier on Monday, 15th January.
The 2014 bronze medalists will also play 2014 champions Libya at the same Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier on Friday, 19th January, before travelling to Agadir to tackle Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday, 23rd January.
Nigeria Full Team List:
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC); Oladele Ajiboye (Plateau United); Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC)
Defenders: Osas Okoro (Rangers International); Daniel James (Plateau United); Kalu Orji Okagbue (Rangers International); Ikouwem Udoh (Enyimba FC); Abdullahi Musa (Wikki Tourists); Timothy Danladi (Katsina United); Ifeanyi Nweke (Kano Pillars); Stephen Eze (Kano Pillars)
Midfielders: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Augustine Oladapo (Enyimba FC); Ekundayo Ojo (Sunshine Stars); Emeka Atuloma (Rivers United)
Forwards: Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars); Eneji Moses (Plateau United); Ibrahim Mustapha (Enyimba FC); Emeka Ogbuh (Rivers United); Sunday Faleye (Akwa United); Nura Mohammed (El-Kanemi Warriors); Okechukwu Gabriel (Akwa United)