In the thrilling lead-up to the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigeria’s head coach, Jose Peseiro, and the Super Eagles are in the final stretch, precisely one month away from the tournament kick-off in Ivory Coast, Soccernet.ng reports.
Peseiro is expected to have submitted a provisional list of 55 players to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as Wednesday, December 13, is the final day for that submission.
A final list of 27 players that will carry the nation’s hopes will be unveiled on or before the January 3 deadline. Coach Peseiro anticipates having his complete roster just ten days before the championship commences.
However, a critical milestone looms on December 17, aligned with a FIFA directive, as all countries are mandated to extend invitations to clubs whose players are set for AFCON participation.
Timely invitations are important, as clubs retain the right to block a player’s involvement if invitations do not arrive promptly.
This FIFA directive aims to mitigate conflicts between clubs and national teams, especially given that the African tournament falls outside the international window.
From December 17 onwards, several coaches would have the core of their 27-player squad ready at hand, although this may not be the case for Coach Peseiro.
The Super Eagles boss is still unclear about which goalkeepers he is taking to AFCON. At the same time, a few key players, including Kelechi Iheanacho, are nursing knocks that need to be monitored.
Following this, the unofficial 27-player roster will undergo technical scrutiny before being formally disclosed through the press and submitted to CAF before the crucial January 3 deadline.
This date holds significance, allowing clubs to retain their players until just ten days before AFCON kicks off in the Ivory Coast (January 13–February 11, 2024).
The release of players for the major continental competition will follow FIFA’s January 3 cutoff.
While players in leagues with winter breaks, such as France and Italy, might encounter minimal release issues, those in the English Premier League and Championship, navigating the Boxing Day period from December 26, 2023, to January 2, 2024, are expected to be the last to join the national teams.
Peseiro will find himself with a complete squad only from January 3, aligning with FIFA’s release deadline and setting the stage for Nigeria’s pursuit of glory in the upcoming African football spectacle.
Nigeria, aiming for a fourth AFCON title, have been drawn in Group A together with hosts Ivory Coast as well as Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.