Chelsea of England defender, Ola Aina, who played on loan at Hull City last season, and Bursaspor of Turkey midfielder, Mikel Ndubuisi Agu were both on Sunday dropped from Nigeria’s squad to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Speculation had been rife all along that Aina, who gave away a penalty in Nigeria’s 1-1 draw at home to DR Congo last Monday, would be dropped, as Super Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr said he could not take five full backs to the Mundial.
With Shehu Abdullahi and Tyronne Ebuehi ahead of Aina on the right, as well as Brian Idowu and Elderson Uwa Echiejile preferred down the left, his exclusion was bound to be confirmed eventually.
Same applies for Agu, whose relevance appeared sealed when he replaced skipper, John Mikel Obi home and away against Cameroon in the qualifiers, only to fall down the pecking order in midfield behind Eddy Ogenyi Onazi, John Ugochukwu Ogu, Joel Chukwuma Obi, Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo.
Though speculation had been mild about the possibility of Ndidi missing out on account of injury, the reverse turned out to be the case on Sunday, as Agu, who is on loan from FC Porto of Portugal got the chop.
On the other hand, Rohr kept faith with Ndidi in his final list of 23 players for the Mundial in Russia, ahead of which they play their final build-up match this Wednesday in Austria, against Czech Republic.
Eagles captain John Mikel Obi will go for his second straight World Cup, after lining out at Brazil 2014, while Echiejile returns after missing out four years ago due to injury, following his maiden outing at South Africa 2010.
Also returning to the global soccer showpiece after appearing four years ago are Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Kenneth Omeruo and Victor Moses, who will all feature in a second edition of the World Cup.
Four players born outside Nigeria in the shape of Leon Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Tyronne Ebuehi and Brian Idowu have been selected in the group.
Aged 19, Deportivo Fabril’s Francis Uzoho is the only teenager in the squad while Chippa United’s Daniel Akpeyi, 31, is the oldest member of the team.
Rohr’s Russia 2018 squad contains three goalkeepers, eight defenders, six midfielders and six strikers.
The goalkeepers are Francis Odinaka Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, while the defenders are Abdullahi Shehu, Tyronne Ebuehi, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Aderemi Balogun, Chidozie Awaziem, Elderson Uwa Echiejile, Kenneth Omeruo and Bryan Idowu.
The midfielders are Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi, John Mikel Obi, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi, John Ugochukwu Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo, and Joel Chukwuma Obi, as well as strikers, Odion Jude Ighalo, Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Victor Moses.
The team is heading out of London to Austria on Sunday, ahead of their final battle in the World Cup build-up programme on Wednesday, with Ndidi expected to get his first match after suffering a season ending injury in action for Leicester City.