Nigeria and Cameroon are getting ready for the final round in CAF qualifiers by calling up the former England U20 player and appointing new boss respectively.
World Cup 2022 African playoffs are set to be held in two weeks' time. The Super Eagles who apparently still clings on Agustin Eguavoen as their head coach accompanied by the former Barcelona man, Emmanuel Amunike to seal one berth in Qatar later. Initially, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had named Jose Peseiro as their manager before AFCON started. Yet, they eventually cancelled out the appointment.
Eguavoen have announced the 35-man provisional squad for the playoff against Ghana too, which includes Leicester man Ademola Lookman. He is the most current English-born player who opts to play for Nigeria instead of waiting for the Three Lions call up. The application for Lookman's switching side was approved by FIFA in February. It was quite a relief and Nigeria wastes no time to name him in the squad.
The 24-year old talented attacking midfielders was included in the England squad when they won World Cup U20 in 2017 along with AC Milan man Fikayo Tomori, Everton's Dominic Calvert Lewin and Bournemouth forward Dominic Solanke. He is definitely a great addition for Super Eagles and hopefully could help them seal one ticket to Qatar 2022. Interestingly, the former Everton man previously turned down Nigeria's offer to switch allegiance twice, in 2017 and 2018 before giving up on England call up this year.
The RB Leipzig loanee is not exactly the first Englishman switching to Nigeria for featuring in the world cup finals. Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses and Shola Ameobi were the other examples. The first one was named in World Cup 2018 squad while the last two made their debut in Brazil 2014.
In the current squad, Lookman is not the only English player changing nationality for better opportunity in the international fixtures. The wing back Ola Aina shares the same experience as him. Yet, he already did it five years ago in 2017 when he was still playing for Chelsea. Here is the complete list of Nigeria provisional squad:
Goalies: Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam), Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs), Francis Uzoho (Omonia Nicosia).
Defenders: Ola Aina (Torino), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto), William Troost Ekong (Watford), Sheyi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion), Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey (Rangers), Shehu Abdullahi (Omonia Nicosia).
Midfielders: Joe Aribo (Rangers), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Frank Onyeka (Brentford), Peter Etebo (Watford), Akinkunmi Amoo ( FC Copenhagen).
Forwards: Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Moses Simon (Nantes), Sadiq Umar (Almeria), Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk), Victor Osimhen (Napoli), Odion Ighalo (Al Hilal) Emmanuel Dennis (Watford), Ademola Lookman (Leicester).
Back-up: Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow), Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin), Paul Onuachu (Genk), Ogenyi Onazi (Al Adalah KSA)
In the meantime, Cameroon surprisingly appointed an inexperienced figure, Rigobert Song, as a replacement for Toni Conceicao who was dismissed after the team only finished on the third place. The statement on Song's appointment was released earlier this month from Cameroon sport minister, Narcisse Kombi.
"On very high instructions from the President of the Republic, the coach of the men's national football team, Mr Antonio Conceicao, has been replaced by Rigobert Song. The Cameroonian Football Federation (Fecafoot) is invited to take the necessary measures for a rapid and harmonious implementation of these very high directives."
This is fairly unusual since FIFA forbids any external interference for the federation's clinical decision. What's more, The former Indomitable Lions skipper in 2000s has only had very little managerial experience. He previously took charge of the U23 team but did not succeed in guiding them to advance from the group stage in AFCON U23 in 2019.
Cameroon is scheduled to take on the 2019 AFCON Champions, Algeria in a forthnight. Karl Toko Ekambi and Co will be playing host first before travelling to Algeirs at the second leg.