Paris 2024 Race: U23 Head Coach, Yusuf, calls up red-hot Orban, 15 other overseas-based players
Head Coach Salisu Yusuf has listed KAA Ghent of Belgium striker Gift Orban among the 16 overseas-based players invited to the team’s camp in preparation for this month’s U23 AFCON final qualifying fixture against Guinea.
The Olympic Eagles trade tackles with their Guinean counterparts in a first leg encounter scheduled for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja from 4pm on Wednesday, 22nd March, with the return set for the Complexe Sportif Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan from 7pm Morocco time on Tuesday, 28th March. Guinea does not have any venue approved in the country for international matches.
Yusuf’s list of invitees is headed by Orban who has scored 12 times in nine games between February and now including the four goals he scored in his team’s 6-2 away win at Zulte Waregen in the Belgian Pro League and his hat-trick in his team’s win in Turkey in the UEFA Conference League.
Also listed is team captain Success Makanjuola, whose two converted spot kicks against Tanzania earned the 1996 Olympic gold-medallists passage to this final round. There are also midfielder Abiodun Ogunniyi and Bello Babatunde, as well as Belgium-based new headline-grabber Gift Emmanuel Orban.
As happened against the Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in October last year, Makanjuola is expected to lead the charge against the Guineans in Abuja on Wednesday, perhaps alongside Orban, with Babatunde and Ogunniyi (nicknamed Omo-Jesu) pulling the strings from the middle.
The winner on aggregate will qualify for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco later this year, at which Africa’s flag bearers at next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament will emerge.
Guinea’s delegation for the encounter in Abuja is expected to arrive in Nigeria on Saturday evening.
ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:
Success Makanjuola (FK Liepaja, Latvia); Bello Babatunde (Future FC, Egypt); Isaiah Ejeh (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Abiodun Ogunniyi (FK Auda, Latvia); Monsuru Opeyemi Abdullahi (FC Vizela, Portugal); Omole Akinyinka Olaoluwakitan (Athletic Newham, UK).
Owen Tega Udoh (UD San Sebastian Reyes, Spain); Azeez Temitope Yusuf (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Charles Uba (Lillestrom FC, Norway); Simon Omon (Clube Operation Desportivo, Portugal); Ihekuna Maximillian Ugochukwu (FC Sfintul Gheorghe Suruceni, Moldova).
Chukwudi Goodluck Igbokwe (KAA Gent, Belgium); Abass Saidi (Zagalata FC, Azerbaijan); Ibrahim Buhari (IF Elfsborg, Sweden); Gift Emmanuel Orban (KAA Gent, Belgium); Samuel Amadi (Eramica Cleopatra, Egypt)