Super Eagles Captain John Mikel Obi has been left out of Nigeria's fourth match in a row after the World Cup in Russia. The Tianjin Teda enforcer in the Chinese Super League has returned to action after recovering from injuries. He was on duty for the Chinese team at the weekend.
Mikel asked to be left out of the fixtures against Seychelles and Libya but was expected to return against South Africa but was surprisingly missing from the 23-man list for the trip to Johannesburg released by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) yesterday.
Ogenyi Onazi too was left out of Gernot Rohr's squad for the AFCON 2019 reverse fixture against South Africa's Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg on November 17 after playing minimal roles in the last two games.
The Trabzonspor player in the Turkish league used to command starting shirt in the Eagles but has been struggling for quality playing time as a result of what team source attributes to his 'not playing to instruction and becoming stubborn.'
In the list of 23 invited players released yesterday, former Under-17 World Cup-winning forward, Victor Osimhen, returns after a long time out, with another Golden Eaglets forward, Samuel Chukwueze, earning a first call.
The same group will prosecute the friendly encounter against the Cranes of Uganda at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba three days later.
Rohr's squad is led by stand-in captain Ahmed Musa with Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi the three goalkeepers called to camp.
Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, Leone Balogun and Kenneth Omeruo are included among eight defenders.
Oghenekaro Etebo and John Ogu are listed among three midfielders while dependable Wilfred Ndidi is conspicuously missing due to the second yellow card he received in the reverse fixture against Libya in Sfax, Tunisia a fortnight ago. The Leicester star had earlier earned a yellow against Seychelles.
Midfielder Mikel Agu, who played some part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and home-based defender Adeleye Olamilekan Aniyikaye are also invited.
Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Samuel Kalu and Alex Iwobi are among nine forwards to avenge Nigeria's defeat in the first game of the AFCON 2019 qualifier in Uyo last year.
Henry Onyekuru and Junior Lokosa are listed among five standby players.
Nigeria is leading Group E of the AFCON 2019 series with nine points with South Africa on eight points leading to the clash at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
A win for Eagles will automatically send the Eagles to the finals in Cameroon, with the second ticket in Group E to be down to a fierce battle between the Bafana and Libya's Mediterranean Knights.
According to Communications Director of the NFF, Ademola Olajire, the Super Eagles will fly from Johannesburg to Asaba on 18th November for the friendly with the Cranes on 20th November.
"All the invited players are expected to report direct in Asaba on Monday, 12th November," observed the statement from Olajire last night.
THE INVITED PLAYERS
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Elche FC, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Adeleye Aniyikaye (FC IfeanyiUbah); Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Israel); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal FC, Portugal)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nasr FC, Saudi Arabia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi SC, Belgium); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux FC, France); Isaac Success (Watford FC, England); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)
Standby: Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); Nyima Nwagua (Kano Pillars FC); Sunday Adetunji (Enyimba FC); Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars FC)