Nigeria names final squad for World Cup
Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback has named his final 23-man squad for the World Cup after cutting seven players, a team spokesman said Monday.
Nigeria Football Federation spokesman Ademola Olajire told The Associated Press that Everton striker Victor Anichebe was among those cut from the Super Eagles' provisional 30-man list. Anichebe had returned to action with the English Premier League club at the beginning of May after suffering an injury during a match against Bolton in March.
Olajire gave no explanation why Anichebe was dropped. Lagerback also left out Peter Utaka, the brother of Portsmouth and Super Eagles forward John Utaka, while defender Onyekachi Apam of Nice failed to make the squad after sitting out a warmup match with an injury.
Lagerback also dropped the only two Nigeria-based players who had been in the enlarged squad-goalkeeper Akpan Bassey and defender Peter Suswan-but the Swedish coach retained veteran forward Nwankwo Kanu, who made his international debut in 1994 and captained Nigeria to gold at the 1996 Olympics.
Nigeria finished third at this year's African Cup of Nations, leading the federation to sack Amodu Shaibu as coach after the tournament and bring in Lagerback, who had resigned as Sweden coach after failing to qualify his country for South Africa.
Nigeria's performances in its friendly matches have not been especially impressive. The Super Eagles drew 0-0 with Saudi Arabia, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, and were not able to field Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel, who sat out the game due to injury. Nigeria then salvaged a 1-1 draw against Colombia on Sunday.
Nigeria will face North Korea in a final warmup match on June 6, and will play Argentina, Greece and South Korea in its World Cup group.
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Dele Ayenugba (Beni Yehuda FC), Austine Ejide (Hapoel Petah Tikva)
Defenders: Taye Taiwo (Marseille), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow), Joseph Yobo (Everton), Daniel Shittu (Bolton), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam), Rabiu Afolabi (Salzburg)
Midfielders: Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Sani Kaita (Alaniya), Lukman Haruna (Monaco), Ayila Yussuf (Dynamo Kiev), Peter Osaze (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Forwards: Yakubu Ayegbeni (Everton), Chinedu Obasi (Hoffenheim), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg), Ikechukwu Uche (Zaragoza), John Utaka (Portsmouth), Victor Obinna (Malaga).