Nigeria’s final preparations for the 32ndAfrica Cup of Nations holding in Egypt begin on Sunday, when invited players, alongside the technical crew and administrative staff, will start arriving in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
NicknamedThe Big Heart, Delta State has eased into the forefront as the nation’s football capital, since hosting the 2018 AITEO Cup finals and the international friendly between the Super Eagles and Uganda’s Cranes in November 2018. Since then, the Super Eagles have played Seychelles in Asaba in an AFCON qualifier and hosted Egypt in a friendly, and the city was also the setting for the U23 National Team’s thrashing of Libya in an U23 AFCON qualifier in March 2019.
On Sunday, the Eagles’ backroom staff are expected to be complete, with some players also expected, while the larger population of the playing body should hit town on Monday
This first phase of camping will also take in a friendly match, against equally Egypt-bound Warriors of Zimbabwe, at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Saturday, 8thJune.
Players and officials will travel to the Egyptian city of Ismailia the following day aboard a chartered flight, where they will stay at the Hotel Mercure and spend a full week perfecting tactics and strategies, before taking on Africa’s number one –ranked team Senegal in another friendly in Ismailia.
On 17thJanuary, the three –time champions will travel to Alexandria – venue of their Group B matches against Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar.
Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr had invited 25 players to the camp, with six other players – among them three home –based professionals – on standby.
25 EAGLES FOR AFCON 2019 CAMP
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa.
Defenders:Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Middlesbrough FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alexander Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)
Six On Standby:Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Ikouwem Utin (Enyimba FC); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal); Junior Ajayi (Al Ahly, Egypt); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba FC).