President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has revealed that he will hold talks with interim Super Eagles coach Augustine Eguavoen over delaying the arrival of Glasgow Rangers’ Nigerian players for a national team training camp ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
Central defender Leon Balogun and defensive midfielder Joe Aribo are guaranteed roster spots for the tournament which kicks off in Cameroon on January 9, and a third Rangers player in left-back Calvin Bassey is knocking on the door after his recent fine performances for the Scottish champions.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst recently claimed that the three players have been cleared to stay back in Glasgow until after the Old Firm derby against Celtic on January 2.
Pinnick has clarified that Eguavoen has the final say on whether the three players will be allowed to face the Hoops.
In truth, Rangers’ higher-ups were in contact with erstwhile Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr before he was dismissed earlier this month and there is now a new man in charge of the national team.
Asked at Wednesday’s media parley if the Nigerian Federation has allowed Aribo, Balogun and Bassey to stay back in Scotland until after the Celtic game, Pinnick responded : “It’s not me that will determine that. I don’t interfere in the coach’s matter, I can only appeal when it comes to that.
“They are key players. Have you seen players when they sign contracts, their contract will say I’m the only one taking penalties otherwise don’t sign me.
“There are some players you give absolute respect to. There are some players who don’t go to training but you cannot stop them. I have seen contracts of players so they determine what happens.
“It brings indiscipline but I will talk to the coach and also appeal to them because that game against Celtic is very crucial, it’s also good for their own preparation”.
Balogun is in a race against the clock to be in tip-top condition before the AFCON and the derby against Celtic, having missed the last eight matches contested by Rangers in all competitions.
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