Semi Ajayi, Jamilu Collins Get First Nigeria Invitations

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Photo credit : Semi Ajayi

Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr on Friday kept to his promise of rolling out his latest squad list, with a daring move that sees him hand first ever invitations to Semi Ajayi of English lower division side, Rotherham United and Jamilu Collins, who plies his trade in Germany’s second tier league.

The 24-year-old Ajayi trained with Nigeria’s under-20 team, Flying Eagles in 2013 and was in the squad for the Toulon tournament, during which he first played in a 1-1 draw against Belgium before making two more appearances against Portugal and Brazil.

He, however, missed the final squad for the FIFA U20 World Cup in the same summer he secured a high profile move to Arsenal, who loaned him to Cardiff City.

In 2015, his loan at Cardiff was made permanent ‎at the end of his contract at Arsenal and he signed a two year deal.

However, Ajayi failed to once again make an impact at the club and, after impressing on loan at Rotherham, he was signed permanently by the club last summer.

Ajayi has been a regular with Rotherham this season and his form has attracted Rohr, who is rebuilding his squad after their participation at the World Cup in Russia.

Aside debut calls for Ajayi, a former Flying Eagles invitee, and Collins from SC Paderbon, Rohr’s list also sees recalls for Galatasaray of Turkey forward, Henry Onyekuru and Ola Aina of Torino in Italy, plus main team promotions for Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Kalu.

Onyekuru and Ola Aina, who is on loan to Torino from Chelsea, did not make the squad to the World Cup, while Kalu recently transferred from KAA Gent to Bordeaux in the French Ligue 1 and Nwakali twinkled with the Eagles’ B-team in an exhibition friendly against La Liga side, Atletico Madrid in Port Harcourt before the Mundial.

Veterans of the squad, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi, Odion Jude Ighalo and Ahmed Musa lead 16 players from the World Cup in Russia 2018 to battle Seychelles on September 7 in Victoria at the restart of the 2019 AFCON qualifying series.

Both teams lost their opening games, as Nigeria fell 2-0 at home to South Africa, while Seychelles were battered 5-1 away to Libya, hence the testy nature expected in upper Friday’s game.

The Super Eagles’ full list for the match against Seychelles has three goalkeepers: Francis Odinaka Uzoho (Elche), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United), and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba); as well as eight defenders: William Troost-Ekong (Udinese), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Jamiu Collins (SC Paderborn), Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow), Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto), Ola Aina (Torino), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United) and Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes).

Also listed are five midfielders: John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), Joel Obi (Chievo Verona), and Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto).

Capping the roster are seven forwards: Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Ahmed Musa (Al-Nassr), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray), and Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo (FC Crotone).

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