Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi announced his 23-man squad for the country’s maiden participation at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa.
The team will be without midfielder star Sunday Mba who reccently left for France to sign with CA Bastia in the Ligue 2.
He picked first choice goalkeeper and skipper Chigozie Agbim, defender Azubuike Egwuekwe, midfielder Joshua Obaje and forward Gbolahan Salami among the 23 players that will represent Nigeria at the 3rd CHAN.
Usual suspects Solomon Kwambe, Francis Benjamin, Kunle Odunlami, Umar Zango, Barnabas Imenger, Daniel Akpeyi and Ifeanyi Ede also make the list, but former junior internationals Abdullahi Shehu and Christian Pyagbara also make the cut, with FIFA U-17 World Cup winner Dele Alampasu expectedly joining the big boys so early.
Nigeria take on host South Africa, Mali and Mozambique in Group A of the championship reserved for senior players plying their trade in the domestic League of their countries. The competition runs from 11th January – 1st February, 2014 in three South African cities.
In his quest to win the tournament just as he did at the full-strength Africa Cup of Nations staged in the same country early 2013, Coach Keshi has picked three goalkeepers, eight defenders, six midfielders and six forwards.
Agbim, Kwambe, Benjamin and Egwuekwe are integral part of Nigeria’s A Team, while Pyagbara and Shehu played for the Flying Eagles at the African Youth Championship in Algeria and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey in 2013.
Alampasu was selected as the Best Goalkeeper as Nigeria’s U-17 side cruised to a record fourth win at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates October/November 2013.
FULL SQUAD LIST
GOALKEEPERS: Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers); Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland FC); Dele Alampasu (Abuja Football College)
DEFENDERS: Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars); Francis Benjamin (Heartland FC); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars); Ikechukwu Gabriel (Bayelsa United); Umar Zango (Kano Pillars); Bright Esieme (Enyimba FC); Erhun Obanor (Insurance FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Ugonna Uzochukwu (Enugu Rangers); Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars); Christian Pyagbara (Sharks FC); Ikenna Hilary (Sunshine Stars); Abdullahi Shehu (Kano Pillars); Joshua Obaje (Warri Wolves)
FORWARDS: Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers); Gbolahan Salami (Shooting Stars); Barnabas Imenger (Lobi Stars); Aliyu Ibrahim (Nasarawa United); Christian Obiozor (Enugu Rangers); Ifeanyi Ede (Enyimba FC)