In-form Europe based stars Azubuike Okechukwu and Taiwo Awoniyi were among early arrivals in the national Under-23 camp in Tunisia ahead of Wednesday’s Under 23 AFCON qualifier against Libya in Ben Guerdane.
Azubuike who captained the last Under-23 team prior to the bronze winning feat at the 2016 Rio Olympics arrived Tunis from his Turkey base on Monday afternoon while forward Awoniyi also came in from Belgium.
The contingent, led by head coach Imama Amapakabo then made a 35-minute flight from Tunis to Ben Guerdane and have since settled in at their Palm Azur Hotel in Djerba with their official training session at the match venue; March 7 Stadium in Ben Guerdane slated for 4pm on Tuesday.
A top official of the team confirmed to www.aclsports.com on Tuesday morning that only three players are being awaited, all expected to arrive Tunisia on Tuesday. They are midfielder Kingsley Michael as well as attackers Orji Okwonkwo and David Okereke.
At the team’s meeting on Monday night, Çaykur Rizespor midfielder Azubuike was announced to the team as the captain ahead of their qualifying engagements, retaining a role he so served with dexterity and excellence last time out. Awoniyi also played small part in the last team.
While the Liverpool owned forward scored two crucial goals for Samson Siasia’s team in an All Africa Games qualifier in Zambia, Azubuike led by example by winning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player when Nigeria won the inaugural CAF Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal in 2015.
Wednesday’s game against the Libyan Under 23 side will kick off at 4pm local time (same time in Nigeria) and will have Ghanaian referee Daniel Nii Ayi Laryea as the centre referee. Laryea will be assisted by compatriots Acheampong Brobbey and Emmanuel Allou.
NIGERIA U23 SQUAD TO TUNISIA
Goalkeepers: Olawale Oremade (Kwara Utd), Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourist), Mohammed Galadima (Nasarawa United)
Defenders: Joshua Akpudje (MFMFC), Ugochukwu Anumudu (Lobi Stars, Makurdi), Oluwadamilare Olatunji (Enyimba FC), Stephen Egbe (Enyimba FC), Adebayo Ojo (Brookes FC, UK) John Lazarus (Lobi Stars, Makurdi) Etiboy Akpan (Akwa United) , Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars, Makurdi)
Midfielders: Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto B, Portugal), Azubuike Okechukwu (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey), Orji Okwonkwo (Impact Montreal, Canada), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain), Tosin Kehinde (CD Feirense, Portugal), Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars FC)
Forwards: David Okereke (Spezia FC Italy), Chidera Ezeh (Portimonense FC, Portugal), Taiwo Awoniyi (Royal Mouscron, Belgium), Muyiwa Olabiran (Tanbov FC, Russia), Kingsley Michael (AC Perugia, Italy) Dennis Bonaventure (Club Brugge FC, Belgium)