Nigeria suffered a huge blow today when star goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was ruled out of this weekend's 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia because of an ankle injury. The 28-year-old Nigerian player of the year had wanted to play, but his Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv preferred he did not.
"Enyeama told head coach, Samson Siasia, that he has an ankle injury which he has been treating with pain killers, but his Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv have now ordered him to rest," said Ademola Olajire, spokesman for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Enyeama has been the country's first choice goalkeeper since the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ and was outstanding at last year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
In his absence, another Israel-based goalkeeper, Dele Aiyenugba, will most likely be in goal against Ethiopia on Sunday in Abuja. Siasia has also called up net-minder Sunday Rotimi from Dolphin of Port Harcourt, who are currently top of the Nigeria Premier League.
Nigeria began training for the Group B match today in Abuja with the bulk of their foreign-based professionals, led by England-based strikers Obafemi Martins and Peter Odemwingie expected to arrive tomorrow.
The Super Eagles are second behind Guinea with three points from two matches. Ethiopia are third on three points, while Madagascar are yet to tally a point. The overall winners of Group B will earn an automatic ticket to next year's African Nations Cup to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.