China stars still part of Nigeria plans

Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi
John Mikel Obi's move to China has not ruled him out of contention for the Nigeria national team

The Nigeria Football Federation has assured players based in China they are still part of future plans.

That is despite none being included in coach Gernot Rohr's squad to face South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on 10 June in Uyo.

China-based strikers Odion Ighalo and Brown Ideye both miss out while captain John Mikel Obi is injured.

"The season in China is still ongoing and it will be an hectic journey," team spokesman Toyin Ibitoye told BBC Sport.

"Coach Rohr has decided to keep faith with the strikers he's been working with in France for almost ten days now but those players in China are still part of the squad."

Also missing is Victor Moses, fresh from helping Chelsea win the English Premier League title, with reports that he is injured although no official reason has been given.

"Moses has been excused by the coach," Ibitoye explained.

Watford striker Isaac Success has been left out, while injury has ruled out Germany-based duo of Leon Balogun and Noah Serenren-Bazee.

In-form strikers Olanrewaju Kayode and Henry Onyekuru have been handed a chance to make their competitive debuts for Nigeria.

Onyekuru's 22 goals in the Belgian top flight has lead to him being linked with a move to English club Arsenal.

While Kayode finished as top scorer in the Austrian league with 17 goals for Austria Vienna.

Three-time African champions Nigeria have failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament in 2015 and 2017.

Nigeria squad:

Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah), Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC, Portugal), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa)

Defenders: William Troost-Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium), Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus), Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands), Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain), Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal), Maroof Yusuf (Zamalek, Egypt), Kenneth Omeruo (Alanyaspor, Turkey)

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England), Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal), John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Israel), Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal), Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United FC), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor, Turkey)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England), Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium), Henry Onyekuru (KAS Eupen, Belgium),Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg, Germany), Olanrewaju Kayode (Austria Vienna, Austria), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, England)

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