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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Iheanacho missing as Nigeria commence preparation for Benin clash

19:04 GMT 23/03/2021
Super Eagles
Ahead of Saturday’s qualifier in Porto-Novo, Gernot Rohr’s Eagles trained for the first time and they were without the Leicester City forward

The Nigeria senior national team had their first training in Lagos ahead of Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin Republic.

The three-time African kings take on the Squirrels in the Group L fixture, as a win for the Super Eagles would earn them a berth in Cameroon 2022.

Under the watchful eyes of German tactician Gernot Rohr, all the invited players except Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho took part in the training focused on ball work.

Rohr’s men will hold their second warm-up on Wednesday evening to finetune their strategies for the important encounter against Michel Dussuyer’s team.

The first leg staged at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo ended in defeat for Benin, with goals from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Kalu inspiring a 2-1 triumph, while their only strike was scored by Stephane Sessegnon.

Sadly, Sessegnon was omitted from his team’s 23-man squad as he remains without a club since the end of his spell at Turkish Super Lig outfit Genclerbirligi.

Nevertheless, the 36-year-old will be in the Squirrels camp as a non-playing captain to boost the morale of his teammates.

Nigeria lead Group L after accruing eight points from four outings, while Dussuyer’s side occupies second position with seven points, while Sierra Leone and Lesotho are third and fourth respectively.

Victory for Benin at Porto-Novo’s Stade Charles de Gaulle would guarantee them a ticket to their fifth appearance at the biennial African football showpiece.

After that, they head to the National Stadium Freetown for their last group fixture against the Leone Stars which could appear as a dead-rubber fixture.

Meanwhile, former Nigeria international Dosu Joseph is hoping that Enyimba star Anayo Iwuala would be given the chance to feature against Benin.

The player inspired Fatai Osho’s men to a 1-0 defeat of Sunshine Stars at the Agege Stadium before heading to the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island.

“I watched Anayo Iwuala of Enyimba play against Sunshine Stars on Monday at Agege Stadium for the first time, he deserves the Super Eagles call up,” the Atlanta 96 Olympic gold medallist told Completesports.

“Hope he will be given the opportunity to play in Benin or in Lagos [against Lesotho]. He is a very good attacking midfielder.”