Watford decided not to release Emmanuel Dennis because the Nigeria Football Federation sent the call-up letter to the club late.
Recall that the club’s coach, Claudio Ranieri, said a week ago that an email from the NFF inviting the striker for the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon missed the deadline. Hence, that gave the club the power to decide whether to release him or not.
Since Emmanuel Dennis is arguably the best player at the struggling Premier League club, the club decided to deny the 24-year-old Nigerian striker the opportunity of playing in the 2022 AFCON.
A statement via the official Instagram page of the Super Eagles of Nigeria confirmed that Dennis has been replaced in the country’s 28-man list for the 2022 AFCON by Peter Olayinka from Czech Republic club Slavia Prague.
The statement read: “In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis, whose English Premiership club is baring fangs, has been excused to provide room for Czech Republic-based forward Peter Olayinka.”
Dennis made his debut for the Super Eagles of Nigeria on September 10, 2019. Since then, he has made just three appearances and has not scored for the West African team.
The 24-year-old center-forward joined Watford on July 1, 2021, from Club Brugge for just €4 million. Since then, he has scored 8 goals and provided 5 assists in 18 games in all competitions.
Aside from Emmanuel Dennis and Victor Osimhen, two players have dropped out from Nigeria’s AFCON 2022
Earlier, Futballnews reported that Victor Osimhen of Napoli would not play in the 2022 AFCON after contracting coronavirus for the second time.
Aside from him and Emmanuel Dennis, Rangers’ Leon Balogun and Omonia Nicosia’s Shehu Abdullahi have withdrawn from coach Austin Eguavoen’s 28-man list because they are yet to fully recover from injuries.
Hence, the interim coach has invited Olympiacos’ Henry Onyekuru, Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi, Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka, and West Bromwich Albion’s Semi Ajayi to replace the players that have dropped out of the squad.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will commence their campaign in the tournament on January 11 against Egypt in the city of Garoua, Cameroon.
Below is the updated Nigeria’s 2022 AFCON squad
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); John Noble (Enyimba FC); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Tyronne Ebuehi (Venezia); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa).
Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca, Spain).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague).