Super Eagles midfielder, Mikel Obi and other Europe-based stars have been told to report at the team’s Faro camp in Portugal latest by 4 January, for their final phase of preparations for the 2013 African Cup of Nations slated for South Africa.
The order came from officials of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, who declared that erring players would be shut out of the squad.
FIFA and CAF rules stipulate that clubs are mandated to release players for national assignments at least two weeks to the event, and the NFF has threatened to report any club that fails to comply with the ruling.
General Secretary of NFF, Musa Amadu said the federation has to adopt a firm stance on the issue to give the Eagles the best preparation for the competition.
“There won’t be any problem as regards the release of our players for the African Cup of Nations because the competition is recognised by both CAF and FIFA. Let’s not also forget that AFCON is a very big tournament. Everyone knows it is the biggest football fiesta in Africa,” Amadu said.
The NFF scribe further hinted that sanctions will be invoked through the might of FIFA on erring European clubs and players.
“Obviously, since it is the biggest tournament on the continent, the foreign clubs are obliged to release the players two weeks to the competition.
“So, as expected, by 4 January, 2013, we expect the foreign-based players to report to the team’s camp in Portugal, otherwise we will employ sanctions on the players and the clubs involved,” he said.
The team’s pre-AFCON camp will open in the Nigerian capital, Abuja on Sunday with the foreign-based players expected to be the first to arrive.
Amadu revealed that training will begin in earnest under the watchful eyes of Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi and his assistants.
“The preparations are in top gear. The Eagles will train till 27 December in Abuja, and move to Faro for the last phase of camping.”
The NFF chief concluded that the anticipated friendly international between the Eagles and a selected Spanish team will hold in Espanyol before the Nations Cup.