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2022 World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Eguavoen reveals why Hoffenheim’s Akpoguma was snubbed for Ghana games

19:34 IST 15/03/2022
Kevin Akpoguma
The 26-year-old is not part of the Super Eagles squad to face the Black Stars en route to qualification for Qatar 2022

Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen has explained his decision not to invite Kevin Akpoguma for this month’s 2022 World Cup qualification play-off against Ghana. 

The former Germany U20 captain pledged his international allegiance to the three-time African champions during the reign of Gernot Rohr as handler.

Although Akpoguma played a role in the country’s qualification for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, he did not make the country's final cut for the continental finals.

Again, the Hoffenheim defender did not make the provisional 30-man squad to prepare for the double-header that will decide one of Africa’s representatives to Qatar.

As his exclusion continues to generate debate, the Super Eagles chief-in-dock opened up on why snubbed him for the African classic. 

“I’m a very reserved person, because our people, not just Nigeria alone, the entire world, people twist words. Akpoguma, yes, was out of the list that went to the Africa Cup of Nations,” Eguavoen told Elegbete TV.

“But slightly after the list was released, we still had opportunities to bring in one or two players, and then [Leon] Balogun was hurt -  he couldn’t go because of his injury, and then we sent for Akpoguma to come. He didn’t, his club said no.

“That was why I opted for that young boy who plays in South Africa (Olisa Ndah), who is not even on this list for Ghana - but that does not mean he is out of the squad. 

“I want people to know that if you are out of a team, that does not mean you cannot be recalled.”

Even at his consistent performance for the German elite division side, Akpoguma might have not done enough to displace the trio of Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong as well as Kenneth Omeruo in Nigeria’s starting XI.

“I have not worked with Akpoguma but I have seen him closely,” he continued.

“ He is a very good player, no doubt, but we have Balogun and Troost-Ekong, I have watched Omeruo, I have watched Ajayi. 

“Once another opportunity comes, we will always give him the opportunity.”

Eguavoen’s men travel to the Cape Coast Stadium for the first leg on March 25 before hosting the reverse fixture at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja four days later.