2 surprises in Nigeria’s provisional WCup squad
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa were in Nigeria’s provisional World Cup squad on Monday, as was the uncapped Simeon Nwankwo, a 1.98-meter (6-foot-6) striker with Italian club Crotone.
Moses, Iwobi and Musa lead a strong group of forwards in the 30-man squad that also includes Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon.
Nwankwo is one of two surprise inclusions by coach Gernot Rohr after scoring seven goals in Serie A this season. One of them was an overhead kick against Juventus.
The other unexpected selection is home-based striker Junior Lokosa, who is the Nigerian Premier League’s leading goal-scorer this season but also hasn’t played for Nigeria.
Rohr selected goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Francis Uzoho of Deportivo La Coruna, Daniel Akpeyi and Dele Ajiboye, meaning no recall for veteran Vincent Enyeama.
Midfielder John Obi Mikel was named captain. Fellow midfielders Ogenyi Onazi and Wilfred Ndidi also made the list.
The most intriguing selections were of Nwankwo and Lokosa, although they both may struggle to make the final 23-man squad due to be named by June 4 because of Nigeria’s strength up front.
Chelsea’s Moses is expected to lead the forward line while Arsenal’s Iwobi, Musa, Iheanacho and Simon are all established internationals.
Nigeria’s training camp begins next Monday ahead of scheduled friendlies against Congo on May 28, England on June 2, and Czech Republic on June 6.
Nigeria is in Group D at the World Cup and faces Croatia, Iceland and then Argentina.
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba, Nigeria); Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa); Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United, Nigeria).
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor, Turkey); Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag, Netherlands); Olaoluwa Aina (Hull, England); Elderson Echiejile (Brugge, Belgium); Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes, France); William Ekong (Bursaspor, Turkey); Leon Balogun (Mainz, Germany); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa, Turkey); Stephen Eze (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria).
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda, China); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas, Spain); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Uche Agbo (Standard Liege, Belgium); Joel Obi (Torino, Italy); Mikel Agu (Bursaspor, Turkey).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester, England); Moses Simon (Gent, Belgium); Victor Moses (Chelsea, England); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, England); Nwankwo Simeon (Crotone, Italy); Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars, Nigeria).