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Super Eagles hold first training ahead of Sierra Leone, São Tomé AFCON qualifiers

The Super Eagles’ preparations for Thursday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone continued on Sunday as 24 of the 27 invited players trained in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Friendly matches against Mexico (in Dallas on 28th May) and against Ecuador in New Jersey (2nd June) kickstarted the preparations as the Eagles seek a 20th appearance at Africa’s flagship tournament, this time holding in the summer of 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire.

With Head Coach José Santos Peseiro taking full charge, Ahmed Musa led the playing body that included goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Adewale Adeyinka and Adebayo Adeleye, and defenders Ola Aina, William Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, Semi Ajayi, Leon Balogun, Sani Faisal and Kenneth Omeruo. There were also midfielders Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Innocent Bonke and Frank Onyeka, and forwards Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Cyriel Dessers, Ademola Lookman, Sadiq Umar, Terem Moffi and Emmanuel Dennis.

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Only defenders Abdullahi Shehu and Calvin Bassey, as well as midfielder Joe Aribo were being expected in camp as at lunch time on Sunday.

Peseiro was able to meet and familiarize with the invited players who were unable to make it to the United States for the friendlies, including Musa, Sanusi, Balogun, Etebo, Chukwueze, Umar, and Lookman.

He also met with Omeruo, Onyeka, and Osimhen, as well as Israel-based goalkeeper Adeleye, who were not invited to the friendlies in America but have been called for the AFCON qualifiers.

The Eagles confront familiar foes Sierra Leone at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Thursday evening in one of the Day 1 matches of Group A of the qualification series. On Saturday, they will fly to Marrakech for a Day 2 game against São Tomé and Príncipe that will take place on Monday, 13th June.

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Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football have appointed Ivorian officials to take charge of Thursday’s encounter in Abuja, with Ibrahim Kalilou Traore as centre referee. His compatriots Adou Desire N’goh, Nouhou Ouattara and Kouassi Francois Biro will serve as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and fourth official respectively.

Moukaila Nassam Adam from Ghana will be match commissioner while Serge Paulin Samuel from Burkina Faso will serve as referee assessor.

SQUAD LIST FOR SIERRA LEONE AND SÃO TOMÉ & PRÍNCIPE MATCHES

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Adewale Adeyinka (Akwa United); Adebayo Adeleye (Hapoel Jerusalem, Israel)

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Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Sani Faisal (Katsina United); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain)

 Midfielders: Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford FC, England); Innocent Bonke (FC Lorient, France); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli, Italy); Cyriel Dessers (Feyenoord FC, The Netherlands); Ademola Lookman (Leicester City, England); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Terem Moffi (FC Lorient, France); Emmanuel Dennis (Watford FC, England)

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