Amodu trims down Super Eagles squad to 24
Jets out to Durban without home-based players
From Ezeocha Nzeh, Abuja
SUPER Eagles coach, Shaibu Amodu, yesterday drooped nine players from the 32-man listed billed to begin training in Durban, South Africa tomorrow for the Angola 2010 African Nations Cup.
Amodu did not give any explanation for dropping the players even before Super Eagles' first training session, but a source in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told The Guardian that the coach considered the short time the team had before its first match against Egypt in whittling down the number of players.
Among the players dropped are the three home-based stars included in the first list. They are goalkeeper Greg Etafia, Chibuzor Okonkwo and Ikechukwu Ibenegbu.
Also dropped are Europe-based defenders Dele Adeleye and Adefemi Olubayo, midfielder Femi Ajilore, striker Joseph Akpala and South Africa-based goalkeeper, Greg Etafia.
In the squad billed for Durban are goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama, Bamidele Aiyenugba, and Austin Ejide.
Deputy captain, Joseph Yobo, is among the defenders in the list, which also has Danny Shittu, Obinna Nwaneri, Taye Taiwo, Elderson Echiejile, Yusuf Mohammed, Chidi Odiah, and Onyekachi Apam.
The midfielders are Skipper Nwankwo Kanu, Mikel Obi, Dickson Etuhu, Sani Kaita, Yusuf Ayila, Oluwaseyi Olofinjana and Kalu Uche, while the strikers are Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Osaze Odemwingie, Michael Eneramo, Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, and Chinedu Obasi.
One of the players will be dropped after the training camp in Durban, before the team leaves for Angola on January 10.
The source disclosed that Amodu decided to trim the squad after meeting with the NFF technical committee as he wants to beat the CAF January 1 deadline for submission of the team list.
There are speculations that one of midfielders Sani Kaita, Yusuf Ayila and striker Chinedu Ogbuke would be dropped before the submission of the final list to CAF.
The source also disclosed that Obafemi Martins, who had a surgery recently might be dropped if he failed a late fitness test in Durban, in which case the aforementioned players would retain their position in the team.
The team and its officials yesterday departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja for the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, where it expected to connect a flight to Durban, South Africa last night.
NFF spokesman, Ademola Olajire, revealed that Wolfsburg of Germany striker, Obafemi Martins and Russia-based Osaze Odemwingie, would team up with the rest of the team in Lagos, while the England-based players, as well as Israel-based duo of Vincent Enyeama and Dele Aiyenugba were permitted to join the team at its Zimbali Lodge Hotel, Durban on January 2 because of club engagements.
"Arrangement has been concluded for the teams departure via a South African airline for Durban, South Africa, where the technical crew will battle to make its final selections for the Angola 2010 Nations Cup," stated Olajire.
He disclosed that the NFF had sent an advance team to Durban to work with the Nigerian embassy in South Africa, which is putting arrangements for the team's arrival.
The Super Eagles, which is grouped alongside defending champions, Egypt, Mozambique and Benin Republic, will play its first match on January 12 against Egypt.
The Team list
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama, Bamidele Aiyenugba, Austin Ejide;
Defenders: Joseph Yobo, Danny Shittu, Obinna Nwaneri, Taye Taiwo, Elderson Echiejile, Yusuf Mohammed, Chidi Odiah, Onyekachi Apam;
Midfielders: Nwankwo Kanu, Mikel Obi, Dickson Etuhu, Sani Kaita, Yusuf Ayila, Oluwaseyi Olofinjana, Kalu Uche;
Strikers: Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Osaze Odemwingie, Michael Eneramo, Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, Chinedu Obasi.