Only five of the 24 home boys are expected to join the 18 overseas-based stars for the big game, as well as for the international friendly against the Stallions of Burkina Faso in Kaduna on Tuesday, 10th September.
Usual suspects, goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, defenders Azubuike Egwuekwe, Solomon Kwambe and Benjamin Francis, as well as midfielders Sunday Mba and forward Muhammad Gambo headline the home boys’ contingent. Defensive pillar Godfrey Oboabona has been called, but will come in as an overseas-based professional if he is able to conclude his transfer to Rizespor of Turkey in a few days.
All 24 home boys are expected at the Bolton White Apartments, Abuja on Sunday, 24th August, while the 18 Europe-based stars are expected to arrive unfailingly in Calabar on Monday, 2nd September.
“We are calling up 24 home boys in order to be able to identify new players for the 2014 African Nations Championship, for which we have already qualified,” said Keshi.
Goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide, defenders Efe Ambrose and Elderson Echiejile, midfielders John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Victor Moses and forwards Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa and Brown Ideye top the list of the Europe-based.
Two-goal hero against South Africa in last week’s Nelson Mandela Challenge, Uche Nwofor retains his slot while Spain-based midfielder Nosa Igiebor returns for the first time since the Africa Cup of Nations finals. England-based Shola Ameobi and Lokomotiv Moscow’s Obinna Nsofor also return.
Nigeria, on nine points, need only avoid defeat against seven-pointer Malawi at the U. J. Esuene Stadium on 7th September, to reach the 10-team final elimination round of the African qualifying race for next year’s showpiece in Brazil.
The friendly against the Etalons at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium three days later brings together the two teams that battled for the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Soccer City, Johannesburg on February 10.
Nigeria won 1-0 that day.
LIST OF HOME-BASED PROFESSIONALS
Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers); Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland FC)
Defenders: Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars); Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars); Umar Zango (Kano Pillars); Benjamin Francis (Heartland FC); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars); Chibuzor Okonkwo (Enugu Rangers); Yinka Adedeji (Sharks FC); Ganiyu Ogungbe (Kwara United)
Midfielders: Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers); Solomon Jabason (Akwa United); Olufemi Oladapo (Shooting Stars); Etebo Oghene (Warri Wolves); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Moses Orkuma (Lobi Stars)
Forwards: Muhammad Gambo (Kano Pillars); Ifeanyi Edeh (Enyimba FC); Mbah Ezekiel (Akwa United); Barnabas Imenger (Lobi Stars); Izu Azuka (Sunshine Stars); Dimgba Stanley (Kwara United); Osadaiye Joseph
LIST OF FOREIGN-BASED PLAYERS
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille FC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga, Portugal); Efe Ambrose Celtic FC, Scotland); James Okwuosa (Chippa United, South Africa)
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Fegor Ogude (Valerenga FC, Norway); John Ogu (Academica de Coimbra, Portugal); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy);Nnamdi Oduamadi (AC Milan, Italy); Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine); Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United, England); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Obinna Nsofor (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Uche Nwofor (VVV Venlo, Netherlands)