Nigeria will look to claim only their second win of 2016 against Mali on Friday, but will have to do so with Victor Moses having joined a host of other key players in missing out.
The Chelsea winger – who spent this season on loan at West Ham – was included in the squad for the friendlies with Mali and Luxembourg but has pulled out because of fitness problems.
That news comes as a blow to a Nigeria side winless in their last four games and one that cannot qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after Chad withdrew from the tournament.
Chad’s withdrawal annulled a 2-0 win for Nigeria and left them with only two points from three games, ending the Super Eagles’ hopes of progressing to the finals.
Captain John Obi Mikel and Ahmed Musa have both been released to compete in Joseph Yobo’s testimonial game, while forward Aaron Samuel Olanare has a knee injury and defender William Troost-Ekong is unavailable due to club commitments, although he will be able to feature against Luxembourg.
For Mali, captain Seydou Keita has been left out of Alain Giresse’s 23-man squad and Werder Bremen midfielder Sambou Yatabare will not be involved in Rouen because of injury.
Mali have fared better in qualifying than Nigeria, taking 10 points from four games to put them in pole position to qualify from Group C, and should be keen to build further momentum ahead of a qualifier with South Sudan next week, when a spot in the finals in Gabon could be secured.
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