By Victor Okoye
Abuja, March 19, 2019
It was a full house on Tuesday as the Super Eagles began their first training session ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final qualifying match against Seychelles.
This is as the delegation of the senior national team of Seychelles, known as the Pirates, has landed in Nigeria for Friday’s match against the Super Eagles.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that all the 23 invited Super Eagles players have now reported to camp and took part in the team’s first training session at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
According to reports on the official Twitter handle of the Super Eagles, the latest arrivals on Tuesday were Ahmed Musa, Paul Onuachu, Leon Balogun, Troost Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Abdullahi Shehu, Wilfred Ndidi, Chidozie Awaziem, Moses Simon and Jamilu Collins.
Others include John Ogu, Etebo Ogenekaro, Victor Osimhen and Henry Onyekuru who arrived later in the day.
NAN also reports that Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi and Semi Ajayi were among the first arrivals in the Super Eagles’ camp in Asaba on Monday.
Others in camp were Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi as well as home –based professionals Ikouwem Utin, Ndifreke Effiong and Valentine Ozornwafor.
Technical Adviser Gernor Rohr had called up 23 players for the final AFCON qualifier against Seychelles and the international friendly against the Pharaohs of Egypt, with Utin and Effiong leaping on the list as a result of injuries to Samuel Kalu and Ola Aina.
The training, which was an open session for both fans and the media, began at about 4:45 p.m. and ended at about 6:30 p.m.
The three-time African champions, Nigeria, have already booked a place in the AFCON holding in Egypt from June 21 to July 19, with the encounter against Seychelles hardly more than an academic exercise.
But the Eagles have spoken of the need to end the qualification series on a high and maintain their reputation while using the game to kick-start preparations for the continental competition.
They take on the Pirates of Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, on Friday by 4 p. m and then play an international friendly against the Pharaohs of Egypt on March 26 at the same venue.
The Super Eagles will be in the pot for the draw on April 12 at the headquarters of Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo.
The Pirates were long eliminated and have only come to fulfill the fixture.
Ademola Olajire, the Director of Communications of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said in a statement on Tuesday that a 29-man delegation of the Pirates arrived in Abuja on Tuesday afternoon.
“The delegation arrived aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight, and will be flown to Asaba on Wednesday,’’ he said.
Besides the encounter with the Pirates, the Eagles are also preparing for a prestige friendly game against the Pharaohs of Egypt.
Egypt are seven-times champions and record winners of the continent’s most prestigious football diadem.
The Nigeria-Egypt match comes up on Tuesday next week, also at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.