Rangers star Leon Balogun is out of the latest Nigeria squd for AFCON – raising fears about the defender’s fitness after a recent injury problem.
The Rangers defender is one of four Super Eagles stars omitted from the updated squad list, with Ibrox teammate Joe Aribo still in the 28-man squad.
Despite Balogun’s exclusion from the squad, there remains no place for Gers mate Calvin Bassey after he was surprisingly left out of the initial list for next month’s AFCON finals in Cameroon.
Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi is added to the squad in Balogun’s place while Emmanuel Dennis, Victor Osimhen and Shehu Abdullahi also drop out.
Peter Olayinkam, Henry Onyekuru and Semi Ajayi take their places in the squad.
Nigerian Football Federation spokesperson Ademola Olajire confirmed the changes and gave brief reasons for the updates to the squad, saying: “Lively forward Victor Osimhen’s positive test to the coronavirus pandemic a couple of days ago and injury to the versatile Abdullahi Shehu have constrained changes to Nigeria’s final 28-man list for the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations starting in Cameroon next weekend.
“The goalkeeping department is untouched, but the forced exclusion of Cyprus –based Shehu, who can slot easily into sections of the defence and midfield, has made way for hard-as-nails right back Tyrone Ebuehi, now with Venezia in the Italian Serie A, and England –based Oluwasemilogo Ajayi returns to the group for Africa’s flagship football championship following injury to centre-back Leon Balogun. Ajayi can also play as a midfielder.
“Osimhen’s absence paves way for Greece-based Henry Onyekuru who was also at the last finals in Egypt. In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis, whose English Premiership club is baring fangs, has been excused to provide room for Czech Republic-based forward Peter Olayinka.”
Balogun had been due to miss Premiership clashes with Aberdeen on January 18 and a February 2 Old Firm clash with Celtic but – if fit – will now be free to play for Rangers in both fixtures.