AFCON 2021: Iheanacho, Balogun return for Sierra Leone double-header
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has handed call-ups to Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Wigan’s Leon Balogun, alongside 22 other players for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games against Sierra Leone later this month.
In-form Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Ola Aina, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Lille hit-man Victor Osimhen have all been called up for the crunch fixtures in Asaba and Freetown. Also invited is skipper of the team Ahmed Musa, vice-captain William Ekong and Spain-based defender Kenneth Omeruo.
Surprisingly, Rohr has called up FC Koln defender Kingsley Ehizibue, while Heracles’ 15-goal man Cyril Dessers has been expectedly called up for the first time to the Super Eagles since pledging his international future to the West African nation.
Nigeria began the qualifying campaign on a good note, with wins against Benin Republic and Lesotho putting them in absolute control of group L. They will play host to Sierra Leone at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Friday, 27th March, before flying to Freetown to play the same side in the return leg four days later.
Nigeria, AFCON champions in 2013, can seal qualification to next year’s event in Cameroon with victories in both games against Sierra Leone, before their final two games against Benin Republic in Port Novo in June and final group game against Lesotho in September.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)
Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Wigan Athletic, England); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Kingsley Ehizibue (FC Koln, Germany)
Midfielders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Etebo Oghenekaro (Getafe FC, Spain); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Cyril Dessers (Heracles Almelo, The Netherlands); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France).