Nigeria team officials said Thursday they had solved midfielder Sunday Mba’s travel problems and he had joined up with the World Cup squad in London in time for its departure for the United States.
Team spokesman Ben Alaiya said that Mba’s visa to travel to the U.K. had expired. His French club Bastia then requested he report to France, diverting his planned trip from Nigeria to Britain.
The Nigeria Football Federation put in urgent requests with British embassy authorities in the Nigerian capital Abuja and then Paris and Mba’s travel documents were renewed, allowing him to report to Corsica-based Bastia before meeting up with his Nigerian teammates.
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He joined the Nigerian squad two days late but watched Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with Scotland in a warm-up game in London from the stands, Alaiya said.
Mba was the last player to join the African champion’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad.
The squad was heading for the United States on Thursday for friendlies against Greece in Chester, Pennsylvania on June 3 and the U.S. in Jacksonville, Florida on June 7 ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.
The squad will be cut to 23 for the World Cup on June 2, the NFF said, FIFA’s deadline day for final lists.
Mba was a standout player for Nigeria when it won the African Cup of Nations last year, scoring in the quarterfinals against Ivory Coast and the winning goal in the final. His participation at the World Cup had been in doubt with Nigerian media reporting his travel document issues meant he wouldn’t be considered by coach Stephen Keshi for the World Cup.
Nigeria plays Iran, Bosnia and Argentina in Group F in Brazil.