Rangers defender Calvin Bassey has earned his first call-up to the Nigeria squad for this month’s World Cup qualifying games against Central African Republic.
Born in Italy, Bassey also qualifies to play for England, but he has opted to represent Nigeria — the country of his parents.
The left-back, 21, joined Rangers on a four-year deal in July 2020 after spending five years with Leicester City’s youth teams.
He’s been invited for the Super Eagles’ home-and-away games against the CAR, alongside fellow Rangers Stars Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, whose side lead Group C after two wins from two games, has also included Fatih Karagumruk winger Ahmed Musa, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, Genk’s talisman Paul Onuachu, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho.
Hoffenheim defender Kevin Akpoguma and Brentford’s Frank Onyeka have returned to the squad after being overlooked for last month’s matches against Liberia and Cape Verde, but Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis is, once again, left out.
Malmö FF defensive midfielder Innocent Bonke has also been omitted for the games against Les Fauves. Bologna’s Kingsley Michael is injured and as expected, he has not been named in the 23-man squad.
The first leg will hold at Teslim Balogun Stadium on October 7 and the second, three days later
Victories in games could secure Nigeria a place in final qualifying round, which will hold in March 2022.
The full squad
Goalkeepers Maduka Okoye, Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi return, just as defenders William Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu, Chidozie Awaziem, Leon Balogun, Jamilu Collins, Olaoluwa Aina and Kenneth Omeruo. Added to the rearguard now are Kevin Akpoguma, who missed the last games as a result of illness, and new call-up Calvin Ughelumba of Glasgow Rangers FC in Scotland.
With enforcers Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo out injured, the lot falls on Frank Onyeka and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo to replicate their firm handling of things in the middle in Mindelo, when Central African Republic comes calling on Thursday and in Douala on Sunday. Rohr has now listed England –based duo Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho in the midfield.
Captain Musa leads the line at the fore, with in-form France –based Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Chidera Ojuke, Paul Onuachu and Samuel Kalu also called.
Victory in both games will all but guarantee the Super Eagles’ passage to the all-important knockout rounds scheduled for March 2022, which will produce Africa’s five flagbearers in Qatar.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Calvin Bassey (Rangers, Scotland); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)
Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Rangers, Scotland); Innocent Bonke (Malmo FF, Sweden); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Kalu (FC Bordeaux, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia)
- Genk’s Pul Onuachu scores first hat-trick of the season in comfortable win against Seraing
- Taiwo Awoniyi scores twice in Union Berlin’s win at Mainz