Nigeria will be going to the 2021 AFCON without two of their biggest stars after Victor Osimhen was ruled out due to COVID and Dennis Emmanuel over unknown issues.
It has been a long week for Nigerian fans as the battle for Victor Osimhen availability for AFCON took different twists.
Victor who had been out injured for weeks announced his readiness to play at AFCON, a decision which Napoli didn’t fancy.
That a Napoli lawyer threatened taking legal action against Nigeria. After the legal action threat, a report from Italy said Napoli would love for Osimhen to be excused from AFCON.
A day after the report, Victor Osimhen came to Nigeria for the holidays and upon his return to Italy where he would meet the doctor who will declare him fit to play again – it was discovered that Victor had contracted COVID.
Based on this news, the Nigeria Football Federation left with just one option which is to excuse him from the tournament.
And to add salt to the injury, Emmanuel Dennis who is currently one of the most inform striker in the Premier League was excused.
The NFF in a statement released today didn’t give a concrete reason but only said “Emmanuel Dennis, whose English Premiership club is baring fangs, has been excused.”
The reason for his omission is not good enough and begs different questions.
Emmanuel Dennis not interested in the Eagles call up? There were reports doing the round a few weeks back where he was quoted saying he wants to focus on his club career.
But the 24-year-old debunked the news: “This is fake news. Very false report. I never said such. It is a fabrication of the website and it is totally untrue.”
Another angle to this issue is Claudio Ranieri claims that the Nigeria Football Federation failed to send their invite late so Watford wouldn’t release him on this basis.
“I’m not so sure I will miss him now, I don’t know if he goes,” he said when asked about Dennis. “Let’s think about it this week and then I will tell you,” said Ranieri.
“The national team has a time to send their precall, they don’t respect the days and I want to see very well.
“I know the email arrived late and I want to know everything. The email arrived late to call him. The national team has a time, during this time they have to send the pre-call, if they don’t send the pre-call, we can choose.”
This claim is confusing as Emmanuel Dennis Nigerian teammates William Troost-Ekong is not affected by this late email.
Could it be that the NFF actually sent the email late but Watford decided to let Troost-Ekong go because he is not as important to them as Emmanuel Dennis?.
Is there more to this that we don’t know?.
In all, Emmanuel Dennis has to do what he feels is the best for himself and his career.
Well, Nigeria will aim to win their fourth AFCON title without two of their current best players.
The new adjusted squad list:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Tyrone Ebuehi (Venezia FC, Italy); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa)
Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Galsgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos FC, Greece); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Praha, Czech Republic)