Nigeria squad named, John Mikel Obi obvious absentee

Nigeria squad named, John Mikel Obi obvious absentee
Nigeria's John Obi Mikel

by Staff Reporter

Tuesday Oct 02, 2018. 14:30

Captain John Mikel Obi has been ‘excused’ from Nigeria's latest squad because he needs time to recover from injury, according to the country's football federation, the NFF.

He was the most notable absentee from the Super Eagles squad for their upcoming back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with Libya in October

The 31-year-old, who plays for Chinese side Tianjin TEDA, has not played for his country since the World Cup, leading to speculation about his international future.

But he is set to return to the camp for next month's Afcon qualifier match with South Africa.

“Mikel has been excused because he is just recovering from injury in China and needs time to fully regain fitness,” team spokesman Toyin Ibitoye told BBC Sport.

“We expect him to be available for the November game against South Africa.”

Coach Gernot Rohr has made three changes from the Super Eagles squad that took on Seychelles last month with the omission of on-loan Arsenal youngster Kelechi Nwakali, and Italy-based duo of Simeon Nwankwo and Joel Obi.

Watford's Isaac Success has been rewarded for his impressive form with the English side and fit-again Levante forward Moses Simon and Bursaspor of Turkey defender Shehu Abdullahi also earn recalls.

The squad is boosted by the return of Arsenal's Alex Iwobi, defenders William Troost-Ekong and Ola Aina, after the trio pulled out of September's fixture due to injury.

The three-time African champions won 3-0 away in Seychelles in last month's Nations Cup qualifier as they seek to return to the tournament they won in their last appearance in 2013.

They host Libya in Uyo on 13 October and then travel to face the same opposition three days later at Stade Taïeb Mhiri in Sfax, Tunisia.

Nigeria began their campaign to qualify for the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon with a surprise 2-0 loss to visiting South Africa in June last year.

Libya, with four points, are currently top of Group E on goal difference ahead of South Africa, the top two from the four-team pool will qualify for next year's finals.

Nigeria squad

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Elche FC/Spain), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba, Nigeria), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United/South Africa)

Defenders: Ola Aina (Torino FC/Italy), Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC/Turkey), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United/England), Brian Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow/Russia), Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto/Portugal), William Ekong (Udinese FC/Italy), Leon Balogun (Brighton and Hove Albion/England), Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes/Spain), Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07/Germany)

Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC/Turkey), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/England), Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC/England), John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva/Israel)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr FC/Saudi Arabia), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/England), Moses Simon (Levante FC/Spain), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK/Turkey), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai/China), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/England), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux/France), Isaac Success (Watford/England)

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