Only two home based players made it to the 2017 Afrobasket Championship co-hosted by Tunisia and Senegal. Kano Pillars duo, Azuoma Dike and Abdul Yahaya. Last month, 30 home based players were invited to the national camp in Lagos ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Three home based players in camp have been included in the 18 man-squad invited for Nigeria’s Group B games against hosts Mali, Rwanda and Uganda. Gombe Bulls guard, Abdulwahab Yakubu, Mark Mentors forward, Musa Usman and Eli Abraham of Kano Pillars will join 15 foreign pros in Mali for the 2019 world cup qualifiers scheduled for February 23-25.
Yakubu told ACLSports he was elated when the list was announced.
“I was excited when I saw my name on the list. I hope to do well if I get a chance to play next week in Mali.”
Yakubu believes it’s a well deserved invite to the national team after his first outing in 2015.
“I was part of the national team that qualified Nigeria in 2015 for the Afrobasket when we played against Burkina Faso. And I was also part of the national team that played four nations tournament in South Africa which we won Mozambique. My hard work has once again earned me this invite to the national team,” he said
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Meanwhile, Mentors forward Usman believes it’s a dream come true for him to finally wear the colours of Nigeria.
“It is a lovely opportunity and privilege to represent my country. All you ever dream of as a sports man in Nigeria, is to play for your country,” said Usman
Usman who was part of the D’Tigers team to Tunisia but not on the 12-man official roster, is confident Nigeria will be in China next year.
“Nigerians should expect nothing less than the first place we have done it before and we will do it again.”
Top-three teams from each of the four groups will advance to the decisive 12-team round of the qualifiers, which will see teams play home-and-away games. The teams that finish bottom of their respective groups will be eliminated.
The windows for the World Cup qualifiers are November 20-28, February’s 19-27, 2018, June 25-July 3, September 10-18, November 26-December 4 2018 and February 20-28 2019.