They lead 21 others including Ukraine-based Brown Ideye who made the team despite originally being rumoured as cut from the team by coach Stephen Keshi. The Nigeria coached released the final team list while the country engaged Cape Verde in a friendly match in Faro, Portugal Wednesday night. The match ended goalless.
Nigeria Captain Joseph Yobo will play in his sixth Africa Cup of Nations finals. The 32-year old defender had previously played at the 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 finals, winning bronze on four occasions.
Vice captain and first choice goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and forward Ikechukwu Uche are also included in the team that Keshi held on to the list insisting he could only make public after the first half of the Wednesday match. January 9 was the last day for submission of team list according to the Confederation of African timetable.
The list may have been as widely expected but Keshi surprised many when he chose to drop Bright Dike from the team. Keshi had spoken highly of the America-based Dike who also scored the country lone goal against Catalonia last week in a friendly match which gave the inkling that the rookie striker could make the cut.
Apart from Yobo, goalkeepers Enyeama and Austin Ejide, defender Elderson Echiejile, Mikel and forward Uche who were at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, the rest will be making their debut in South Africa.
It will be the first appearance for goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Juwon Oshaniwa and Godfrey Oboabona, midfielders Nosa Igiebor, Ogenyi Onazi, Obiora Nwankwo, Fegor Ogude and Reuben Gabriel, and strikers Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, Sunday Mba, Ideye, Victor Moses and Ejike Uzoenyi.
Nigeria will play Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia in Group C, with their first two games against the Etalons and the Cup holders coming up inside Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium on 21st January and 25th January respectively, before a clash with Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes in Rustenburg’s Bafokeng Sports Palace on 29th January.
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (SC Braga, Portugal); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, Turkey); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands); Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria).
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Obiora Nwankwo (Calcio Padova, Italy); Fegor Ogude (Valerenga FC, Norway); Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars, Nigeria);
Forwards: Ahmed Musa ( CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow, Russia); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria); Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal FC, Spain); Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria).