The Super Eagle's new manager Lars Lagerback named his first provisional 30-man squad for this summer's World Cup in South Africa, in the capital, Abuja, on Monday.
Lagerback retired from the managership of the Swedish national team after failing to lead "The Blue and Yellow" to a major championship for the first time in five tournaments. Lagerback took the reins of the Super Eagles after former manager Shaibu Amodu, who led the Super Eagles to a third-place finish in the Africa Cup of Nations, was fired.
The experienced Swede has named a squad with a heavy emphasis on Premier League players, with a recall for Everton's Victor Anichebe, who has only recently returned from injury. Lagerback has also retained veteran striker Nwankwo Kanu as the team's captain, despite his club getting relegated from the Premier League this season.
However, there is no place for Kanu's countryman Seyi Olofinjana, who was also relegated this season with Hull City. The tall midfielder was a bit-part player during the Africa Cup of Nations, and since returning to the Premier League, has been unable to win his place back in the Hull City first team.
Lagerback has also picked Chelsea's injured midfielder John Obi Mikel. The influential playmaker has missed the last three games for the new Premier League Champions, and is expected to miss the F.A. Cup final against Kanu and John Utaka's Portsmouth team.
There are places for Nigeria-based players in goalkeeper Bassey Akpan of Bayelsa United, defender Terna Suswan of Lobi Stars, and the Super Eagles' Under-17 World Cup-winning captain from 2007 in Lukman Haruna.
When questioned about the inclusion of Kanu, Obi Mikel, and Anichebe, Lagaback said:
"Individual skills and fitness levels were considered when picking the players. It does not matter if a player is 20 or 35 years old."
Assistant coach Austin Eguavoen said of Lagerback's selections:
"There have been injury concerns as well as other issues, but from defence to attack, we have chosen carefully. This is a team the people of Nigeria can be proud of."
The Super Eagles are set to take on Saudi Arabia in Austria on 25 May and Colombia in London on 30 May, before heading to South Africa for further pre-tournament friendly matches against Korea DPR and the tournament hosts.
Nigeria Provisional Squad
Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda, Israel), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Petah Tikva, Israel), Bassey Akpan (Bayelsa United, Nigeria)
Taye Taiwo (Marseille, France), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes, France), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Onyekachi Apam (OG Nice, France), Joseph Yobo (Everton, England), Daniel Shittu (Bolton Wanderers, England), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands), Rabiu Afolabi (SV Salzburg, Austria), Terna Suswan (Lobi Stars, Nigeria)
Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany), John Utaka (Portsmouth, England), Brown Ideye (FC Sochaux, France), Peter Utaka (Odense Boldklub, Denmark), Kalu Uche (Almeria, Spain), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham, England), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Sani Kaita (Alaniya, Russia), Haruna Lukman (AS Monaco, France), Yusuf Ayila (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia)
Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton, England), Victor Anichebe (Everton, England), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth, England), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg, Germany), Ikechukwu Uche (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Victor Obinna Nsofor (Malaga, Spain)
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