Nigeria Football Federation have confirmed four players, including Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis will not be available to play at the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021.
Besides Napoli’s Osimhen and Watford’s Dennis, Cyprus based Abdullahi Shehu, and Scotland’s Rangers’ Leon Balogun were also ruled out of the country’s squad heading to the 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.
Osimhen’s withdrawal became inevitable after the 22-year-old, who recently declared himself fit, tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time in 2021 on Thursday, according to a statement by his Italian side Napoli.
The development has now forced the former Wolfsburg striker, who is also still recovering from a facial injury, to pull out from the continent showpiece which kicks off on 9 January 2022 in Cameroon.
Injury also forced the withdrawals of defenders Balogun and Shehu, while in-form striker Dennis pulled out for administrative reasons, depleting the attack and defense of the three-time African champions.
In the meantime, striking duo of Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos, Greece) and Czech Republic Slavia Praha’s Peter Olayinka have been named as replacements for Osimhen and Dennis respectively. In the defense, Venezia’s Tyrone Ebuehi and West Bromwich Albion’s Oluwasemilogo Ajayi took the spots of Shehu and Balogun respectively.
The quartet’s withdrawals come as huge blow for the Super Eagles, who have been pitched in Group D with Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau.
The Super Eagles commenced their final preparations for the 24-nation tournament on 29 December in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal capital, with at least six players in camp already.
Augustine Eguavoen’s side will begin their quest for a fourth AFCON title against seven-time African winners, The Pharaohs in Garoua on 9 January.