Gift Emmanuel Orban, who scored the fastest-ever hat-trick in the UEFA Europa Conference League this week, will lead 16 overseas-based pros for Wednesday’s 2024 Olympics playoff against Guinea.
Orban, 20, has been in sensational form for Belgian club KAA Gent, scoring 12 goals in nine appearances since his transfer from Norway in January.
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.
The return match is set for the Complexe Sportif Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan from 7pm Morocco time on Tuesday, 28th March.
Guinea do not have any venue approved in the country for international matches.
Other foreign pros include captain Success Makanjuola, whose two converted spot kicks against Tanzania earned the 1996 Olympic gold-medalists passage to this final round.
There are also midfielders 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, perhaps alongside Orban, with Babatunde and Ogunniyi (nicknamed Omo-Jesu) pulling the strings from the middle.
The winners on aggregate will qualify for the U23 AFCON, which will also determine Africa’s flag bearers at next year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Paris, France.
Guinea’s delegation for the encounter in Abuja is expected to arrive in Nigeria today.
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)