Enyimba winger Anayo Iwuala has been called up to the Nigeria squad for their upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Benin and Lesotho.
The former Warri Wolves player comes in to replace Sadiq Umar, who has been denied permission to join up with the Nigeria squad by his Spanish club, Almeria.
Anayo Iwuala has been handed an invitation to the @NGSuperEagles team to face Benin Republic and Lesotho
He is the third Enyimba player to be invited for the upcoming international windowhttps://t.co/pMzdcm4Csp
— Enyimba FC (@EnyimbaFC) March 19, 2021
Umar was in line to make his international debut after being named in a 24-man list by coach Gernot Rohr, but will now wait for another opportunity following Almeria’s refusal to let him honour the call-up.
— The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) March 19, 2021
The La Liga2 club explained that they have barred the striker — who has netted 14 league goals in 26 appearances this season — from traveling to Nigeria for the AFCON qualifiers over health fears.
A club statement read: ”Due to the pandemic crisis that we are experiencing and thoroughly evaluating all the impacts, we believe that the sanitary, security or bureaucratic conditions are not met, so that our player Sadiq Umar presents himself to the call-up of the Nigerian national team.
“Therefore, based on article 3.1b of Annex 1 of FIFA RSTP, we have notified the player not to appear at the aforementioned call.”
Aside Umar, two other players in the original 24-man list — Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu — are also set to miss the AFCON qualifying ties.
The duo, who ply their trade in France, will miss the fixtures due to prohibition of travel to and from France from countries outside the European space.
Consequently, the Nigeria Football Federation has announced that Henry Onyekuru has taken the place of Kalu, while Paul Onuachu has been invited to replace Simon.
Following the uncertainty regarding the availability of players based in France (due to COVID 19 laws guiding the country),Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr has extended invitation to KRC Genk striker Paul Onuachu. Henry Onyekuru was earlier called up to replace injured Samuel Kalu pic.twitter.com/DWFih7XOGK
— The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) March 17, 2021
Rohr’s side will play Benin at Stade Charles de Gaulle on March 27 and Lesotho Lesotho at Teslim Balogun Stadium, three days later.
Victory in both games will secure Nigeria top spot.