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AFCON Qualifiers: Ndidi, Osimhen Top List Of 24 Players For Crocodiles’, Squirrels Clashes

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Technical Adviser of Super Eagles of Nigeria, Gernot Rohr, has included Captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Victor Osimhen in a 24-man list for this month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying battles with the Benin Republic and Lesotho.

Nigeria, top of the Group E log with eight points (one ahead of Benin Republic and five more than third-placed Sierra Leone), tackle the Squirrels away at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on Saturday, 27th March and will lock horns with the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos three days later.

Both are the concluding games of the qualifying series.

Also Read: Comedian Mr Macaroni blasts Nigerian Police

Also included on the list according to a statement by the Nigeria Football Federation’s spokesman, Ademola Olajire, are Enyimba FC goalkeeper John Noble, defenders Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Olaoluwa Aina, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze.

The versatile Abdullahi Shehu is listed as a midfielder this time and there is a first senior call for Spain–based forward Sadiq Umar.

Seven players, including long–time goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, are on standby.

Rohr, who has steered Nigeria to qualify for two major tournaments (2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations) with a game to spare, countenance even better accomplishment this time, as the Eagles could earn a ticket to the finals in Cameroon before kick-off in Porto Novo, should Lesotho and Sierra Leone end their encounter in Maseru in a stalemate.

The result would be known before kick-off in Porto Novo.

THE FULL LIST

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (APOEL Nicosia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, The Netherlands)

Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Abdullahi Shehu (Omonia Nicosa, Cyprus); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Unattached); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Sadiq Umar (Almeria FC, Spain); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (FC Girondins Bordeaux, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France)

Standby: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray FC, Turkey); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Michael Olise (Reading FC, England); Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors)

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Ronaldo to miss Juventus, Atalanta clash due to injury

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Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out of Sunday’s Serie A game against Champions League rivals Atalanta with a flexor muscle issue.

Coach Andrea Pirlo said the 36-year-old Portuguese striker, the top scorer in Serie A this season with 25 goals, would rest to avoid risking a more serious injury.

“We have an important absentee. Unfortunately, Cristiano will not be taking part in the match due to a problem with his flexor,” Pirlo told a pre-match press conference.

“Over these past few days, he has not been able to recover from the problem sustained after last Sunday’s match against Genoa.

“He hasn’t been able to push himself this week. It would be too risky for us to bring him to Bergamo tomorrow.

“We have decided to leave him in Turin to rest and we will try to have him back for Wednesday’s match against Parma.”

Champions Juventus are third, 12 points off leaders Inter Milan, with their nine-year reign looking set to end.

They play fourth-placed Atalanta who are just a point behind, with next week’s game at relegation-threatened Parma.

Pirlo blamed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s problem on fatigue.

Read Also: Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

“Cristiano has always been in excellent condition,” said the Juventus coach.

“Unfortunately, the three matches in the national team have led to an accumulation of fatigue which is a problem for everyone.

“Cristiano also told me that in the national team he should only have played two games, but then that goal not given against Serbia led him to play the third as well, otherwise he would have been back at Juve’s disposal before the third game.

“An accumulation of everything, travel and games, can lead to fatigue. (Manchester City manager Pep) Guardiola also said it, there have been too many matches and the squads are too tight and these are the consequences.

“We also saw it in the Champions League, with (Bayern Munich’s Robert) Lewandowski who was unable to play the Champions League quarter-finals League due to an injury picked up in the national team.”

Juventus can however count on Argentina striker Paulo Dybala who will start for the first time in over three months, after a long knee injury layoff, partnering Alvaro Morata upfront.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has recovered from Covid-19 contracted while with the national team but will start on the bench.

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Adeboye, Fayemi meet in Ekiti

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The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, on Saturday morning, met with Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, at the Government House, Oke Ayoba, Ado Ekiti, the state capital.

Speaking after the meeting, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Yinka Oyebode, said the 79-year-old cleric paid a courtesy call on the governor.

Read Also: Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

He added that Adeboye and Fayemi also discussed issues of nationhood.

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Yoruba self-determination rally begins in Ibadan

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The Yoruba self-determination rally organised by the Ilana Omo Oodua is underway in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Hundreds of members of the group whose leader is an 86-year-old Emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, had initially scheduled the take-off of the rally for the ancient Mapo Hall but the heavy presence of armed policemen forced them to change the venue.

They are addressing people at Mapo Roundabout but they were not disturbed by the police in any way.

The agitators are armed with banners and Yoruba nation flags while leaders of the group addressing the people are saying Yoruba people are tired of staying with Nigeria.

Also Read: Iran nuclear talks set to resume in Vienna

One of the leaders of the group, Basorun Kunle Adesokan, said Yoruba were no longer part of Nigeria and the people want to be an independent nation.

He condemned the insecurity in Yorubaland, saying the people could no longer stand the injustice in Nigeria.

Adesojan said, “We are no longer part of Nigeria. Yoruba people are determined to stand alone. We are starting the rally here in Ibadan because this is the capital of the Yoruba nation.

” Our brothers in Kwara, Lagos, Kogi, Edo, Delta and other states are here. We are not going to use violence, we want the Yoruba nation. No retreat no surrender. Let Hausa go their way, let Fulani go their own way and Igbo people should also go.

“The rally has taken off, we won’t stop until we achieve our aim.”

One of the leaders of Itsekiri youths present at the rally, Isaac Ajatitan, said Itsekiri people were part of Yoruba and would support them to achieve this aim.

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