It would have been the exciting attacker’s debut appearance at the continental showpiece
Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has confessed that Nigerian forward Emmanuel Dennis desired to be a part of the Super Eagles challenge at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Dennis was named in Nigeria’s final 28-man shortlist for the 33rd edition of the Afcon following his consistently excellent performances for the Hornets.
The former Club Brugge attacker immediately took to Twitter to express his pride in representing the green and white colours of his fatherland at the continental championship.
Having contributed more than half of Watford’s goals in the Premier League, he was always going to be a big miss for the relegation strugglers during a crucial month.
But Watford capitalised on an administrative error on the part of the Nigerian Football Federation to stop Dennis from joining the Afcon camp.
The NFF has since owned up to their mistake and has called up Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka as Dennis’ replacement after knocking the English side for ‘baring fangs’.
At the press conference ahead of the Golden Boys’ clash against Tottenham, as per Morning Star Online, Ranieri explained that Dennis would have loved to be at the Afcon. But the former Chelsea manager insists the 24-year-old is not disappointed to miss out.
“I knew they were speaking, the board and Nigeria board, and I accept every decision they find, and that, for me, is finished,” said Ranieri.
“I’ve spoken with him (Dennis), of course he wanted to go, to play, but he also wanted to help Watford.
“I accept the decision of the board and the Nigeria team.”
Dennis’ exclusion from Afcon 2021 leaves the Super Eagles short of the services of three of Nigeria’s most in-form forwards.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen has been excused from the national team after several weeks of back-and-forth between his club and NFF. Prolific Genk star Paul Onuachu is also ruled out due to injury.