Twenty-four of the 27 invited Super Eagles players have commenced training in Abuja ahead of Thursday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tie against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.
Friendly matches against Mexico (in Dallas on 28th May) and against Ecuador in New Jersey (2nd June) kickstarted the preparations as the Eagles seek a 20th appearance at Africa’s flagship tournament, this time holding next year summer in Cote d’Ivoire.
With Head Coach José Santos Peseiro taking full charge, Skipper Ahmed Musa led the playing body that included goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Adewale Adeyinka and Adebayo Adeleye, and defenders Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, Leon Balogun, Sani Faisal and Kenneth Omeruo. There were also midfielders Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Innocent Bonke and Frank Onyeka, and forwards Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Cyriel Dessers, Ademola Lookman, Sadiq Umar, Terem Moffi and Emmanuel Dennis.
As at lunch time on Sunday, only defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Calvin Bassey, and midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo were being expected in camp.
During breakfast and lunch periods, Peseiro was able to meet and familiarize with invited players who were unable to make it to the United States for the friendlies, including skipper Musa, defenders Sanusi and Balogun, midfielder Etebo and forwards Chukwueze, Umar and Lookman.
He also met with defender Omeruo, midfielder Onyeka and forward Osimhen, as well as Israel –based goal-tender Adeleye, who were not invited to the friendlies in America but have been called for the AFCON fray.
The Eagles confront familiar foes Sierra Leone at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Thursday evening, in one of the Day 1 matches of Group A of the qualification series. On Saturday, they will fly to Marrakech for a Day 2 game against São Tomé and Príncipe that will take place on Monday, 13th June.