Finally, football loving Nigerians can now clear their bemusement about Obafemi Martins’ absence from the national team, despite his consistent scoring form that has seen him lead the top-scorer chart in the MLS. His invitation however, may not be unconnected to Emmanuel Emenike’s sudden exit.
Oba-goal inclusive, the Super Eagles Head Coach Sunday Oliseh has invited 23 players, including and six home –based professionals, for the Super Eagles’ 2018 World Cup qualifying fixture against Swaziland.
The two –legged fixture is slated to take place on the 13th and 17 of next month with the first leg to be played in Lobamba in Swaziland while the return leg will be at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
Martins, who last featured for the national team two years ago, has been in great form in the Major League Soccer, notching up 17 goals and 13 assists, setting the club’s single-season marks for most goals and most points, and tying the assist record. Seattle’s record was 12-0-0 in matches Martins scored and his invitation shows clearly that FIFA Technical Study Group member Oliseh has an open mind to all Nigerian players across the globe.
The invitation is also comes as a sweet birthday present to Martins, who celebrated his big day on Wednesday. He scored for Nigeria on his debut in a friendly match against Republic of Ireland in London in May 2005.
The list also includes six home–based professionals, who all played notable roles in Nigeria’s qualification for the 4th African Nations Championship at the expense of Burkina Faso, are in the 23 –man squad.
Chelsea of England midfielder John Mikel Obi, Portugal–based former junior internationals Dele Alampasu and Abdullahi Shehu and Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi are also invited, as well as former junior international defender Wilfred Ndidi.
Oliseh has directed that all the players arrive at the Bolton White Apartments, Abuja on Sunday, November 8 as training commences same day by 7pm.
The FULL list:
Goalkeepers: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars); Dele Alampasu (Club de Sportivo Feirense, Portugal)
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal); Kalu Orji (Enugu Rangers FC); Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France); Chima Akas (Sharks FC); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz, Germany); Godfrey Oboabona (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Austin Oboroakpo (Abia Warriors)
Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Paul Onobi (Sunshine Stars); John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Rabiu Ibrahim (AS Trencin, Slovakia); Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium); Sylvester Igbonu (FC UFA, Russia)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England); Ezekiel Bassey (Enyimba FC); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders, USA)
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