AFCON 2023 QUALIFIER
*Drops Musa, invites first timer Torunarigha, Boniface, others for São Tomé
After weeks of uncertainty, Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Jose Santos Peseiro, has accepted a pay cut to remain on the senior Nigerian national team post.
The Director of Communication of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ademola Olajire, confirmed yesterday that the Portuguese gaffer accepted the
pay cut on his earlier terms that expired in June.
Although details of the new deal were not disclosed, Peseiro was on a monthly salary of $70,000 in the earlier contract that expired.
“As stipulated in the original contract, drawn in May 2022, the Portuguese has been handed the mandate to lead the Super Eagles to, in the minimum, the semi-finals of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals taking place in Cote d’Ivoire early next year,” a top football official confirmed to THISDAY yesterday.
In the new deal, the head coach has been saddled with the additional responsibility of overseeing the Home-based Super Eagles who contest the biennial African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Peseiro who has already qualified Nigeria for the 2023 AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire with a game to spare, released his 23-man squad for the dead-rubber clash with São Tomé and Principe this weekend in Uyo.
Super Eagles in June last year decimated São Tomé 10-0 in Agadir, Morocco.
Surprisingly, while many Nigerians were expecting the gaffer to use this AFCON 2023 game in Uyo try out fresh players, Peseiro insisted on his familiar legion of foreign-based Eagles. Only team Captain, Ahmed Musa, is the missing link in the invited squad, which may have been as a result of pressure from Nigerian ball fans insisting that the Sivasspor’s forward in Turkish Super Lig has passed his prime.
In Musa’s absence, the on-field Captain, William Ekong, topped the list of invited players which also saw the return of defender Tyronne Ebuehi and Semi Ajayi.
The usual suspects in the midfield like Wilfred Ndidi and Frank Onyeka, and forwards Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen and Taiwo Awoniyi, among others are all listed for next weekend’s qualification series final-day encounter against Sao Tome and Principe.
First timers in the squad include; Belgium-based centre-back, Jordan Torunarigha and forwards Victor Boniface and Gift Orban
Nigeria, on 12 points from their previous five matches, are already guaranteed a place in the finals, but must earn at least a point to be sure of topping the group ahead of second-placed Guinea Bissau, who are on 10 points and playing Sierra Leone at home in Bissau.
ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Olorunleke Ojo (Enyimba FC); Adebayo Adeleye (Hapoel Jerusalem, Israel)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Nottingham Forest, England); Tyronne Ebuehi (Empoli FC, Italy); Jordan Torunarigha (KAA Gent, Belgium); William Ekong (PAOK FC, Greece); Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (Cardiff FC, Wales); Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista FC, Portugal)
Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge, Belgium); Joe Ayodele-Aribo (Southampton FC, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England)
Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta FC, Italy); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest, England); Gift Orban (KAA Gent, Belgium); Victor Boniface (Bayern Leverkusen, Germany)