Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike has been put on the standby list for Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations squad for the finals in South Africa.
Dike was omitted from Stephen Keshi’s squad when it was announced earlier this week despite scoring the only goal in the last two Nigeria matches.
The list comes into effect in case any of the players selected get injured before the tournament starts late next week.
It may be more than a formality, as goalkeeper Austin Ejide, who played in the last friendly, a goalless draw with Cape Verde, tore a muscle in that game and is doubtful for the tournament.
African football expert Gbenga Subair reports that the exclusion of Dike caused a degree of unhappiness in Nigeria:
“A lot of fans were angry he wasn’t selected after scoring that beautiful goal against Catalonia and were impressed with his work rate and energy in that game.
It all depends on what happens and if Ejide can recover in time before the games start. He will likely bring another goalkeeper in as a backup in case he is not able to go to SA… Interesting enough, he was just named the starting keeper for the tournament yesterday and now this injury comes up.
As for picking Dike, it all depends on if any of the forwards get injured before the tournament starts. They are planning another friendly game against a local team in South Africa once they get there but no details yet. It will all come down to fitness, conditioning and all.
CAF does allow teams to replace players in case if any of the players selected in the 23-man squad get injured… The fans back home and elsewhere weren’t too thrilled with his exclusion and it may be why they’ve asked him to be on standby.”
Six Nigeria based players were selected amid some scepticism that politics had played a part in the selections. In the 2010 World Cup, Nigeria was the only team with no players from home-based clubs.