Super Eagles Manager, Lars Lagerback surprised critics of the national team yesterday, when he named match-rusty skipper Nwankwo Kanu and some players who were not active for their respective clubs in the 23-man list for the World Cup finals in South Africa.

Lars Lagerback

Apart from Kanu, who was benched by relegated Portsmouth of England throughout the season, his teammate at Pompey, John Utaka and hefty Bolton Wanderers defender, Danny Shittu also made the list.

Goalkeeper Austin Ejide of Hapoel Petach Tikvah, Israel and Elderson Echiejile of Rennes, France are among the inactive players who made the squad that Nigeria would parade in the first World Cup to be staged on Africa’s soil.

However, the 1996 Olympics gold winning team captain, Kanu is pleased with his inclusion and urged Nigerians in South Africa and in the diaspora to support the team as they battle Argentina in their opening match on 12 June.


“I’m happy to have made the squad to South Africa. We will need the support of every Nigerian to succeed in South Africa,” Kanu decared at the Nigeria team’s pre –World Cup training camp in London yesrerday.

Sadly, joint top scorer in Nigeria’s qualifying series, Ikechukwu Uche and Beijing Olympics silver medallists, defender Onyekachi Apam and striker Victor Anichebe were dropped from the final list.

Peter Utaka, Brown Ideye and the two home-based players invited in the initial 30-man list, Bassey Akpan of Bayelsa United and Terna Suswan of Lobi Stars of Makurdi were also dropped from the squad.

Nigeria’s Full Squad For World Cup:

Goalkeepers
Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda, Israel), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Petach Tikvah, Israel)

Defenders
Taye Taiwo (Marseille, France), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes, France), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Joseph Yobo (Everton, England), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands), Rabiu Afolabi (SV Salzburg, Austria), Danny Shittu (Bolton Wanderers, England)

Midfielders
Kalu Uche (Almeria, Spain), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham, England), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Sani Kaita (Alaniya, Russia), Haruna Lukman (AS Monaco, France), Yusuf Ayila (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine)

Strikers
Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton, England), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth, England), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg, Germany), John Utaka(Portsmouth, England), Victor Obinna Nsofor (Malaga, Spain), Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)

—Tunde Oyedele