Nigeria name Lunar squad
Super Eagles Nigeria have named a 20-strong squad for this month's Carlsberg Cup Lunar New Year tournament with players coming from the four corners of the globe.
The Nigerian Football Association have named 16 overseas-based players including attacking midfielder Pascal Karibe Ojigwe from German club Kaiserslautern and Kenneth Zeigbo of Polish champions Legia Warsaw for the local soccer extravaganza on January 28 and 31 at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Nigeria, under new coach Bora Milutinovic, have cast the net far and wide to assemble the squad and players from clubs as far afield as Kansas City in the United States, LG Cheetahs in the Korean First Division and the Orlando Pirates in South Africa, have been included.
Jero Sakpria of Italian side Reggiana along with Emmanuel Ebiede of Dutch side Heerenveen and Sparta Rotterdam's Festus Okougha will make their Hong Kong debuts.
The list was missing their biggest names, however, with Nigerian Player of the Year Victor Ikpeba of Monaco, Inter Milan star Taribo West and former Everton forward Daniel Amokachi, now with Besiktas of Turkey, unable to make the trip here.
Charles Ojugbana, assistant secretary-general of the Nigerian Football Association, said: 'We have had to delay our selection until quite late because our officials wished to discuss several matters with our new coach and technical adviser.
'The squad that has been chosen, with heavy emphasis on our foreign-based players, is representative of the quality of Nigerian football.
'Many of the European-based players in this squad will feature very heavily in our plans for France and the World Cup.' He added: 'Some players could not get released because of club commitments but we have selected a squad that has the strength in depth to win this tournament.' Carlsberg spokesman, Derek Currie, said he was delighted with the line-up because Nigeria had originally promised eight overseas players.
'They have doubled that tally and they will be a very strong side to beat,' he said.
Nigeria have been drawn to play Iran in the opening game of the Carlsberg Cup on January 28 with the Hong Kong League XI taking on Chile in the other game.