KAA Gent of Belgium in-form striker, Gift Orban, has been invited to Nigeria’s U-23 team ahead of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea, alongside 15 others. In a release by the coach of the team, Salisu Yusuf, Orban was among the 16 names invited to join the players currently in camp in Abuja.
It would be recalled that during the week, the 20-year-old forward scored a three-minute hatrrick as Gent defeated Istanbul Baseksehir 4-1 in the Europa Conference League, just days after scoring four goals in the Jupiler League in a 6-2 away defeat of Zulte Warengem making it seven goals in his last two matches. The Olympic Eagles trade tackles with their Guinean counterparts in a first leg encounter scheduled for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja from 4pm on Wednesday, March 22, with the return set for the Complexe Sportif Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan from 7pm Morocco time on Tuesday, March 28. Guinea does not have any venue approved in the country for international matches. Also on Yusuf’s list of invitees is team captain Success Makanjuola, whose two converted spot kicks against Tanzania earned the 1996 Olympic gold-medallists passage to this final round.
There are also midfielder Abiodun Ogunniyi and Bello Babatunde. As happened against the Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in October last year, Makanjuola is expected to lead the charge against the Guineans in Abuja on Wednesday, perhaps alongside Orban, with Babatunde and Ogunniyi (nicknamed Omo-Jesu) pulling the strings from the middle. The winner on aggregate will qualify for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco later this year, at which Africa’s flag bearers at next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament will emerge. Guinea’s delegation for the encounter in Abuja is expected to arrive in Nigeria on Saturday evening.
ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:
Success Makanjuola (FK Liepaja, Latvia); Bello Babatunde (Future FC, Egypt); Isaiah Ejeh (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Abiodun Ogunniyi (FK Auda, Latvia); Monsuru Opeyemi Abdullahi (FC Vizela, Portugal); Omole Akinyinka Olaoluwakitan (Athletic Newham, UK); Owen Tega Udoh (UD San Sebastian Reyes, Spain); Azeez Temitope Yusuf (Mjallby Alf, Sweden); Charles Uba (Lillestrom FC, Norway); Simon Omon (Clube Operation Desportivo, Portugal); Ihekuna Maximillian Ugochukwu (FC Sfintul Gheorghe Suruceni, Moldova); Chukwudi Goodluck Igbokwe (KAA Gent, Belgium); Abass Saidi (Zagalata FC, Azerbaijan); Ibrahim Buhari (IF Elfsborg, Sweden); Gift Emmanuel Orban (KAA Gent, Belgium); Samuel Amadi (Eramica Cleopatra, Egypt)