Five-time champions, Nigeria have landed in the host nation, Brazil, for this year’s FIFA World Cup finals, which will hold from October 26 November 17.
A team of 25 players and nine officials flew out of the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday evening for Dubai, where they connected another flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Four players would be cut from the roster after the preparatory period before a 21–man World Cup squad is unveiled ahead of the opening encounter.
Nigeria won 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015 tournaments, but missed the 2017 finals in India. Head Coach Manu Garba, who led the 2013 winners, is confident that the Class of 2019 is in Brazil to reclaim the trophy.
The early departure will afford the Golden Eaglets a full two-week final preparatory period, before their opening match of the tournament against Hungary in Goiania on October 26.
Nigeria will then clash with Ecuador (at the same venue on October 29) and Australia (in Brasilia on November 1) in Group B. Vitoria is the other city hosting the 24-nation championship.
In Group A are Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and Angola, while in Nigeria’s Group B are also Hungary, Ecuador and Australia.
Group C houses Korea Republic, Haiti, France and Chile, Group D has U.S., Senegal, Japan, and the Netherlands, just as
Group E has Spain, Argentina, Tajikistan, and Cameroun, while in Group F are Solomon Islands, Italy, Paraguay and Mexico.
The 25 players, who left Abuja for Brazil yesterday, are goalkeepers Sunday Stephen, Joseph Oluwabusola and Daniel Jinadu.
The defenders are Charles Etim, Ogaga Oduko, Usman Ibrahim, Clement Ikenna, Shedrack Tanko, Quadri Edun, Oluwatimilehin Adeniyi and Simon Omon, while the midfielders are Samson Tijani, Akinkunmi Amoo, Daniel Francis, Ibraheem Jabaar, Ibrahim Sa’id, Monsuru Opeyemi, Fawaz Abdullahi, Idris Eletu-Odibo, Malcolm Ebowei, and Peter Agba.
The forwards in the team are Olakunle Olusegun, Wisdom Ubani, Divine Nwachukwu and Mayowa Abayomi.