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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Osimhen and Dennis will be a big miss for Nigeria – Eguavoen

13:57 GMT+3 04/01/2022
Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis of Nigeria.
The Super Eagles coach admits they will have to change their style of play in the absence of the two players

Nigeria interim coach Augustine Eguavoen has bemoaned the absence of two players – Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis – ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles will head to Cameroon seeking to win the title they last won in 2013 and they have been pooled in Group D alongside Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, and Sudan.

Ahead of the 33rd edition of the competition, the Super Eagles suffered a blow after they were forced to replace Osimhen, who turns out for Napoli in Serie A, and Dennis, who features for Watford in the Premier League.

While Osimhen was dropped owing to injury concerns and having contracted Covid-19, Dennis, who has enjoyed a good run of form since joining the Hornets, could not make the team’s camp after he was allegedly denied permission by his parent club.

Eguavoen has now admitted the two players will greatly be missed and further hinted at a potential formation switch during the tournament set to run until February 6.

“The only thing is to change the style of play because the personnel is not there as we expected,” Eguavoen said as quoted by Allnigeriasoccer. "Definitely Victor Osimhen is a big miss, Emmanuel Dennis is in form, also a big miss.”

On Rangers star Leon Balogun, who is also out from the side, Eguavoen said: “Leon [Balogun] we spoke as well, back injury, so be it. So we have to just alter the formation and how we approach the games as well but everybody in camp who replaces who doesn't matter.

“It is not a right to play for Nigeria, it is a privilege so this is green-white-green, you're given an opportunity I think you should take it.”

In the absence of the trio, Eguavoen was forced to ring changes to his squad with Olympiacos’ Henry Onyekuru, Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi, Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka and West Bromwich Albion's Semi Ajayi summoned.

The Super Eagles will begin their campaign against the Pharaohs at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on January 11.

Full Squad for Afcon 2021

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands).

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa).

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain).

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague).