The interim boss of the three-time champions has revealed why one of his in-form forwards had to pull out of the squad for the biennial competition
Super Eagles interim boss Austin Eguavoen has blamed Watford for the decision to remove Emmanuel Dennis from Nigeria’s 28-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Dennis was initially in Nigeria’s squad for the biggest African showpiece, starting on January 9 in Cameroon.
However, on Friday, he was replaced in the squad alongside Victor Osimhen, Leon Balogun and Abdullahi Shehu, a decision that angered many Nigerian fans.
While the reason for Osimhen, Balogun and Shehu’s withdrawal was revealed, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did not provide the reason why Dennis was taken off the list.
However, before his removal, Watford manager Claudio Ranieri had claimed the club were looking to stop Dennis from going because his invitation came in late.
Eguavoen has now confirmed that it was Watford that did stop Dennis from going, even though the 24-year-old did his best to convince the club.
“We tried to reach out to the club, and the club is like, no, we will not allow Dennis to go, Eguavoen told NFF TV.
“And Dennis also told me that his club had done everything humanely possible for him not to be at the AFCON.”
“I can’t force it. I reported the matter to the authority, they also tried.
“That was why we had to wait until about the last second before we pushed the button.”
“Dennis says he wants to come, but the club is threatening him, Eguavoen added.
Four replacements have now been called up for the quartet removed from the squad, and Eguavoen revealed they were all happy after receiving the call.
“I only found Onyekuru once, and he was happy about it. Initially, he’s been an integral part of this team, and I felt bad that some of them wouldn’t be around, but the decision has to be made.
“But as soon as that opening was there, Shehu Abdullahi also said he’s going to be out for ten days to two weeks, and we reached out to Tyrone, he was happy,” Eguavoen added.