Ahead of their first round, first leg Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifying match against Libya in the Tunisian city of Bengerdan on Wednesday, the Nigeria U23 squad departed the shores of the country through Lagos in the early hours of yesterday aboard a Royal Air Maroc flight. Head Coach Imama Amapakabo named a 23-man squad for the game.
After camping for almost three weeks, the former Enugu Rangers’ coach opted for a mixture of local and foreign-based professionals for the battle against the Libyans.
In the list of home-based players are Flying Eagles shot-stopper Olawale Oremade, who led two other goalkeepers whilst Lobi Stars’ trio of John Lazarus, Ebube Duru, and Ugochukwu Anumudu also made the cut.
Other home-based players in the party include Akwa United full-back Etiboy Akpan and Enyimba’s Oluwadamilare Olatunji. Portugal-based Tosin Kehinde and Chidera Ezeh, as well as Russia-based Olabiran Muyiwa were the only overseas–based players to depart with the team from Nigeria.
Other invited overseas–based professionals such as Taiwo Awoniyi, Kelechi Nwakali, Azubuike Okechukwu, and new Club Brugge forward Dennis Bonaventure were expected to join the team in Tunisia yesterday directly from their bases in Europe.
The first leg of the clash will be played on Wednesday in Bergandan and the return leg is scheduled for Asaba on March 25 with the winner over both legs advancing to the final round of qualifiers in June.
The delegation of Nigeria’s U23 squad will land at the Djerba International Airport, which is 20 minutes’ drive to the town of Bengerdan.
The full team list includes goalkeepers, Olawale Oremade (Kwara United), Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourists) and Mohammed Galadima (Nasarawa United).
The defenders are Joshua Akpudje (MFMFC), Ugochukwu Anumudu (Lobi Stars, Makurdi), Oluwadamilare Olatunji (Enyimba FC), Stephen Egbe (Enyimba FC), Adebayo Ojo (Brookes FC, UK), John Lazarus (Lobi Stars, Makurdi), Etiboy Akpan (Akwa United) and Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars, Makurdi).
To contest for positions in the midfield are Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto B, Portugal), Azubuike Okechukwu (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey), Orji Okonkwo (Impact Montreal, Canada), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain), Tosin Kehinde (CD Feirense, Portugal) and Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars FC).
The attackers in the squad are David Okereke (Spezia FC Italy), Chidera Ezeh (Portimonense FC, Portugal), Taiwo Awoniyi (Royal Mouscron, Belgium), Muyiwa Olabiran (Tanbov FC, Russia), Kingsley Michael (AC Perugia, Italy) and (Dennis Bonaventure (Club Brugge FC, Belgium).