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31st Dec 2021

Emmanuel Dennis left out of Nigeria AFCON squad after Ranieri suggested call-up was late

Wayne Farry

Dennis, who has been in incredible form for Watford this season, will not be a part of the Nigeria AFCON squad, despite being called up

Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis has not been included in Nigeria’s final squad to compete in next month’s Africa Cup of Nations, less than a week after his club manager Claudio Ranieri suggested his call-up hadn’t ‘arrived at the right moment’.

Dennis had been named in a 28-man squad list published on the Nigerian Football Federation’s website on Christmas Day, a squad which also included Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who has also been left out of the latest squad.

His Hornets teammate, defender William Ekong, was named in the squad.

Earlier this week, Watford manager Ranieri suggested that the apparent lateness of Nigeria’s call-up for Dennis could lead to him being withheld from the tournament, with the Italian saying: “Look, I know, it’s not arrived at the right moment, we have to wait very well.

“The national team has time to send the pre-calls [call ups], they don’t respect the days.

He added: “The email arrived late to pre-call [Dennis]. Do you know what I mean? The national team has a time, during this time, they have to send the pre-call. If they don’t send the pre-call, we can choose.”

The conversation surrounding next year’s edition of AFCON has seen many rightly question elements why clubs, journalists and fans in Europe are so quick to shrug off the importance of the tournament, compared to how the European Championship is discussed.

Taking to Instagram, former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright said: “Is there ever a tournament more disrespected than the Africa Cup of Nations?”

“There is no greater honour, none, as a sportsperson than representing your country,” said Wright, who won 33 caps for England.

“The coverage is completely tinged with racism.

“We played our EUROs across 10 countries in the middle of a pandemic, and there’s no issue at all.

“But Cameroon, a single country, hosting a tournament, is a problem?

“You’re getting journalists asking players if they will be honouring the call-ups for their national teams. Imagine if that was an English player representing the Three Lions.

“Have you ever heard anyone ask an English player whether he’ll be ‘honouring’ the call-up? Can you imagine the furore?”

The 2022 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Sunday January 9, when hosts Cameroon face Burkina Faso in Yaoundé.