Nigeria’s strikers Emmanuel Dennis & Victor Osimhen are ruled out of AFCON

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Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis will no longer go to the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, while the Super Eagles have also been forced to release Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and several others due to a mix of Covid-19 and injury.

Dennis has only played three times for Nigeria since 2019, a total of 25 minutes of international senior football, but he was recalled to this AFCON tournament after an impressive first half of the season for Watford in the Premier League.

The former Club Brugge player has established himself as one of the season’s signings thanks to eight goals and five assists in just 16 Premier League matches so far.

He was included in Nigeria’s 28-man squad for the competition in Cameroon, although Watford denied it, claiming the deadline had been missed.

There has been no official reason yet for Dennis to withdraw from the Nigeria squad and be “excused” from international service, but Hornets boss Claudio Ranieri hinted at a possible administrative failure by the Nigeria Football Federation.

“The email did not arrive at the right moment. The national team has time to send a preliminary call. They did not respect the days, and I want to see,” Ranieri said after Watford met West Ham on Tuesday.

Osimhen, who cost Napoli a club record € 70 million in 2020 and who has recently recovered from a fractured cheekbone, has been confirmed to be positive for Covid-19.

Rangers center-back Leon Balogun and Omonia’s Shehu Abdullahi, who were both also named in the original squad, have had to withdraw due to injuries.

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