No France-based Nigerian star will be a part of the Super Eagles side preparing to tackle the Squirrels and Crocodiles later this month, but one of the team’s two Netherlands-based international has confirmed his availability
Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has revealed that he is scheduled to be on a flight back to Nigeria next week to help the Super Eagles qualify for the 2022 African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.
That should be good music to the ears of head coach Gernot Rohr who is already faced with a unique challenge of several players boycotting the Afcon-qualifying games later this month.
The Super Eagles travel to Porto Novo on March 27 to face the Benin Republic before hosting Lesotho four days later in games that would decide whether the team will be a part of the party in Cameroon next year.
The Nigerian national team head coach is already without the services of injured Girondins Bordeaux midfielder Samuel Kalu.
Nantes then confirmed that in-form winger Simon Moses would not be released for the qualifiers due to COVID-19 protocols, echoing the sentiments of clubs across France.
That also leaves Lorient’s Terem Moffi, listed on the Eagles’ standby list, unavailable.
Clubs in Europe have been given the power to prevent any player from joining their national teams for international assignments due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In the UK, players returning from the red zone, which is highly affected by the virus, will quarantine for ten days.
There are genuine fears that English clubs might decide to toe the same line as their French counterparts, a move that can rule out several Nigerian stars and torpedo Rohr’s plans.
Super Eagles vice-captain William Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi all play for English clubs and are prominent members of Rohr’s 24-man list.
Amid this uncertainty, Sparta’s Okoye, who has been linked to Dutch giants Ajax in recent days, has confirmed that he will be in town to contribute to Nigeria’s qualification aims.
“Right now, my focus is on staying in the league and qualifying for the Africa Cup with the national team,” Okoye told transfermarkt.
“I will fly to Africa next week, and together with my Nigerian brothers, I will give everything for the country and our fans.”
Okoye’s availability also raises hopes that FC Twente fullback Tyronne Ebuehi will make it to the Nigerian camp next week ahead of the two crucial Afcon qualifiers.