Nigeria have called up Kenneth Omeruo and Olarenwaju Kayode to replace the injured duo of Ogenyi Onazi and Moses Simon as they begin preparations for their final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Algeria.
Omeruo was already on the standby list on the original squad announcement, while Kayode has been called up for the first time since the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying defeat by South Africa.
While the NFF has listed him as a replacement for Simon, he’s more of a like-for-like replacement for Odion Ighalo, who has also withdrawn through injury.
Omeruo’s invitation offers him an opportunity to reaffirm his quality in Gernot Rohr’s eyes, having been jettisoned by the coach in recent features. He last represented the Super Eagles in a 1-1 draw against Senegal in late March, and like Kayode, hadn’t been involved in a squad since the defeat by Bafana Bafana.
As of Monday, many of the squad had already reported to camp in Rabat to begin preparation for Friday’s game in Constantine.
Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi, Mikel Agu and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa were the first four to arrive in camp on Sunday, along with the technical and backroom staff, and they were joined on Monday by 11 players including new call-up Kayode.
Team administrator Dayo Enebi Achor confirmed on the NFF’s official website that team captain Mikel John Obi, as well as goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi are expected in Rabat on Tuesday.
Uzoho is joining the squad after receiving his maiden call-up for the national side. The youngster was handed his Deportivo La Coruna debut away at Eibar in mid October, and impressed in a 0-0 draw.
The 19-year-old could be a potential solution for a problem position for the Super Eagles, with Vincent Enyeama yet to return from his international retirement and Carl Ikeme still out of action following a leukaemia diagnosis.
The Super Eagles, who have already qualified for the World Cup, will play the Fennecs at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui from 8.30pm Algeria time on Friday.
The North African giants are already out of the running for the World Cup, after taking just one point from their opening five matches in the ‘Group of Death’ but will surely want to make a statement in front of their own fans as they look forward towards the Nations Cup qualifying campaign.
On Saturday, Rohr’s side will leave on a chartered flight to Krasnodar, where they will face Argentina in an international friendly on Tuesday.
Argentina are also contending with injuries of their own, with coach Jorge Sampaoli calling up Emanuel Mammana as a replacement for Sevilla’s Gabriel Marcedo.