8 August 2011

Nigeria/Ghana: Depleted Eagles to Face Ghana in London

BARRING a sudden turnaround in situation in the next 24 hours, the national soccer team, the Super Eagles, will on Tuesday (tomorrow) file out against the Black Stars of Ghana parading an under-strength squad.

The international friendly, which holds at Watford's Stadium at Vicarage Road in London, serves as a tune-up match for both sides who play crucial 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers early next month.

But while the Ghanaians have had a smooth build-up to the London event, injury woe and visa hitches have combined to blight preparation on the Nigerian side.

Head Coach of the Super Eagles, Samson Siasia, had two weeks ago announced a team of 22 players for the encounter, however, not less than seven of them may be missing in action against Ghana.

Prominent among the players reportedly out of Siasia's plan are West Bromwich Albion forward, Osaze Odemwingie and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi. Both England-based players had cupped injuries while playing pre-season games for their respective clubs.

First choice goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defender Efe Ambrose and strikers Fegor Ogude and Ekhigo Ehiosun, The Moment learnt, had met a stumbling block trying to secure travel visa to the United Kingdom from their different bases in Europe.

When contacted on whether Siasia, who jetted out to London on Friday, had dialogued with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on the imperative of drafting in new players as replacement, Secretary General of the federation, Musa Amadu claimed ignorance of any problem with the Eagles build-up to the Ghana game. Rather, he referred our correspondent to Siasia.

'I am here in Kaduna with my family for the weekend,' said Amadu. 'You can call the coach, only him can tell you whether he needs replacement or not. I am in charge of the secretariat, nothing concerns me with the team.'

However, speaking in a telephone interview with The Moment from the Eagles camp in London, Siasia acknowledged that some players are in doubt for the match against Ghana, but declined to name their identity nor that of players already in camp.

'I am in touch with all the players, whether they'll all be coming is not a problem. I don't know who is here and who is not. Right now I'm in London and my credit is burning out very fast,' said Siasia, who suddenly terminated the call made by our correspondent.

Siasia had earlier before his departure to London blamed players who have had difficulty processing travel visa for not acting promptly in respect of their applications.

'There are some things one needs to do right in time. I expect these guys to have applied for the visas from their respective bases in time since we are not travelling from Nigeria, which could have helped this situation.

'This definitely cannot help our rebuilding process and I am really going to address this to forestall recurrence in future,' he said.

Ghana's Black Stars ran away with a 4-1 victory the last time they engaged the Super Eagles in a friendly match.

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