Super Eagles’ interim gaffer Austin Eguavoen had lifted the lid as to why Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis’ name was excluded in Nigeria’s squad list fo AFCON’21.
Dennis had been part of the Eagles’ final 28-man squad to take on the continent but was among the four names that were replaced on the roster.
The former Sunshine Stars boss said the Yola-born hitman had to reject the call up because his club Watford had done ‘everything humanly possible’ to prevent losing their striker in a conversation with NFF TV.
“Dennis told me that his club had done everything humanly possible for him not be at the Afcon,” Eguavoen began.
“I can’t force it, I reported the matter to authority and they also tried, that was why we had to wait until the last second before we pushed the button.
The former Brugge striker who was replaced by Henry Onyekuru was reported to have wanted to come according to Eguavoen.
“Dennis said he wanted to come but the club are threatening him. What do we do if a player does not want to come, we have to play with what we have. Based on that, I like the enthusiasm because I only informed Onyekuru once and he was happy about it.
Eguavoen who won the 1994 Nations Cup for Nigeria as a player confirmed that he had always had the replacements handy and he was happy they responded well when he needed them.
“Initially, he has been an integral part of this team and I felt bad that some of them wouldn’t be around but decisions have to be made. Onuachu, Onyekuru, Ebuehi, and few other ones and as soon as that opening was there, Shehu Abdullahi also said that the report came out that he’s been injured and he’s going to be out for 10 days to two weeks and we reached out to Tyronne and he was happy too.”
Apart from Dennis, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Rangers’ Leon Balogun and Omonia’s Shehu Abdullahi have all had their names chalked off the roster all due to injury and fitness issues.
Austin Eguavoen who will only be managing the Eagles on interim Basis as a permanent coach in Jose Peseiro has been appointed had previously led Nigeria to a third-place finish at Afcon 2006.