Italy –based defender William Ekong and England –based midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo are expected to lead the delegation of Super Eagles’ playing body into Dnipro, Ukraine on Saturday, ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly match with the host country’s senior team.
It is the first outing for the three –time African champions since they finished third at the first –ever 24 –team Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt June/July this year.
Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, defenders Olaoluwa Aina, Chidozie Awaziem, Ekong, Leon Balogun and Jamilu Collins, as well as midfielders Alex Iwobi and Etebo and forwards Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Paul Onuachu and Samuel Kalu were in Egypt. But there would be excitement about a rash of new faces alongside a couple of returnees.
Defenders Bryan Idowu and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, and Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho are back after being overlooked for the Africa Cup.
Germany –based goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, midfielder Joseph Aribo of Scottish club Glasgow Rangers and forwards Joshua Maja (France) and Emmanuel Dennis (Belgium) are hitting the camp for the first time.
Saudi Arabia –based Captain Ahmed Musa pulled out of the trip on Thursday night as a result of injury that has failed to heal as quickly as he expected, adding to the earlier forced withdrawals of defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Tyronne Ebuehi, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Henry Onyekuru.
The Dnipro Arena, which is home ground to top club, FC Dnipro, is a 31,000 –capacity facility that was opened in September 2008 and situated in the city of Dnipro, the third largest city in Ukraine after the capital city Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Ukraine is rated number 25 on the FIFA ranking while Nigeria is 33rd.
22 EAGLES FOR UKRAINE FRIENDLY
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Emil Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia).
Midfielders: Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Anderson Esiti (PAOK Salonica, Greece); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Joseph Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland).
Forwards: Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Joshua Maja (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, Belgium).