Red-hot Gent striker Gift Orban will miss Nigeria’s Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Guinea due to the club’s desire for him to rest during the international break.
Orban was included in Salisu Yusuf’s squad for the crucial AFCON qualification doubleheader against Guinea owing to his recent excellent form for Gent, netting twelve goals in 10 games since joining from Stabaek Fotball in January.
The youngster was expected to add some bite to coach 61-year-old’s team, as they pitch for the 2023 AFCON ticket. But Nigeria would have to make do without him.
Soccernet reported earlier that Gent may not allow Orban to join the Olympic Eagles since the invitation did not reach the club early.
But in an interview on Brila FM per Soccernet, coach Salisu stated that the NFF sent invitation letters to all the foreign-based players at the same time. And of the 16 that were called up, 14 were already in camp. Salisu further stated that he did not know why Orban had not reported to camp despite the Monday deadline.
What is the real situation?
According to a report by Voetbalkrant, the real reason Orban is not in camp is that Gent have refused to release the 20-year-old.
This is because he has been in excellent form since he joined, and they want him to get enough rest during the international break so that he can finish the season strong.
Gent currently has 51 points. And they sit fourth in the Jupiler Pro League- the final playoff spot. But they are in danger of dropping out of the top four if they do not win their remaining four games.
Club Brugge are lurking behind with 49 points, Westerlo have 48, and Standard Liege have 46. Any of these teams could pounce if Gent takes their feet off the pedal.
Nonetheless, coach Salisu is anticipated to find a decent replacement, having stated that the team is in high spirits ahead of the match.
In other words, even without Orban, the Olympic Eagles should be able to overcome Guinea.