SEVEN British-based players have left the Super Eagles camp and are heading back to Europe in fulfilment of the agreement between their clubs and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) barring them from featuring in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde.
Last Friday, the Super Eagles kick off their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign at home to Liberia, winning the game 2-0. However, head coach Gernot Rohr is resigned to not being able to use some of his best players to prosecute the game. Cape Verde is on the UK’s red list of countries, meaning that whoever travels there must be quarantined for 10 days upon their return.
Cape Verde is on the UK’s red list of countries at high risk from Covid-19, meaning that anyone who travels there must isolate for 10 days upon return. As a result, the English and Scottish clubsides with Nigerian players have insisted that their wards return to their bases after the home game against Liberia.
Among the players who left camp today include Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City, Oghenekaro Etebo and William Troost-Ekong of Watford, Alex Iwobi of Everton and Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo of Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers. Frank Onyeka of Brentford and Emmanuel Dennis of Watford were dropped at the last minute from the original list of 30 invited players, so are not affected by the decision.
An NF spokesman said: “They would have loved to remain in camp for the next match but the agreement NFF had with their clubs compelled the federation not to renege, so it had to excuse them fly back to their clubs. The Cape Verde match will not be easy considering the exit of some of our key players from the United Kingdom.”
Tomorrow, the remaining 19 players on camp will fly out to Cape Verde for Tuesdays game taking place at the 5,000 capacity Estadio Municipal Aderito Sena on the island of Mindelo. NFF officials and the coaching crew see the game as a tricky one due to a combination of factors, with the inability of Mr Rohr to use his best players a big issue.
Mr Rohr said: “We have just two days to train and we have to play on a synthetic pitch in the southern hemisphere. We have to adapt to two extreme situations.
“The win in Lagos was on wet grass and under a difficult situation and here we are going to another extreme surface, a dry hard pitch. It is not going to be easy for my players to adapt easily.”