Nigerian Football Federation technical and development committee chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu has lambasted the country’s Belgian embassy over the visa issues that have thrown preparations for Thursday’s friendly with DR Congo into a state of flux.
The six Nigerian-based players in Sunday Oliseh’s squad – goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Olufemi Thomas, defender Chima Akas, uncapped midfielders Austin Obaroakpo and Paul Onobi and forward Prince Aggrey – were still at the Belgian embassy 48 hours before the match in Vise after they were not issued with entry visas.
Members of Nigeria’s backroom staff have experienced similar problems.
Defender Godfrey Oboabona, who plies his trade for Turkish club Caykur Rizespor, was also awaiting the correct documentation to travel.
“We are shocked beyond words at the attitude of the Embassy of Belgium in Nigeria,” Anyansi-Agwu said on his federation’s official website.
“This action is a strange one in international sports. Football preaches and spreads peace and love, but we are taken aback at the attitude of the Belgian embassy in Nigeria.
“This attitude of the Embassy of Belgium in Nigeria is not known to international sports. Our team’s preparedness for the only preparatory games ahead of the beginning of FIFA World Cup qualifiers has been unduly hampered.
“The team’s medical crew and other critical backroom staff are held back in Nigeria. This action is not just against a Football Federation; it is against an entire nation.”
In addition to the problems endured in getting all of Oliseh’s squad into Belgium, where Nigeria play rivals Cameron at the Ros Beiaard Stadion on Sunday, reports emerged later on Tuesday that Lille goalkeeper and national team captain Vincent Enyeama had been thrown out of the team’s training camp.
NFF spokesman Toyin Ibitoye refused to be drawn on the situation.
He said: “The last I heard was that Enyeama had arrived [at] camp earlier in the day, I cannot speak about further developments because I am not aware.”
West Ham’s on-loan Chelsea forward Victor Moses and Kasimpasa defender Kenneth Omeruo have already withdraw from Oliseh’s squad due to injury.
Cedric Bakambu, whose goals have helped to fire Villarreal to the top of La Liga, comes into the DR Congo squad in place of Dynamo Kiev forward Dieumerci Mbokani, who is a surprise absentee.
Verona midfielder Paul-Jose Mpoku is out due to a facial injury, while DR Congo will play without their coach or assistant in the dugout.
Florent Ibenge and Mwinyi Zahera will remain in Kinshasa for the league match between their respective teams AS Vita and DC Motema Pembe.