Former Nigeria U17 World Cup winning captain Kelechi Nwakali will wear the captain’s armband when Nigeria begin their U23 AFCON campaign against Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday.
The substantive captain, Azuibuike Okechukwu is yet to join the rest of the U23 squad in Egypt after his Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir insisted he can only be released during the FIFA window as the CAF U23 AFCON tournament is not on the international calendar.
However, Nwakali will be the stand-in captain in the absence of Okechukwu who will be available for South Africa and Zambia matches.
The Olympic Eagles captain was crucial in Instanbul Basakeshir’s 3-0 away win against Wolfsberger AC on Thursday in the Europa League playing for 89 minutes.
A statement by the spokesman of Nigeria Football Federation, Demola Olajire read in part.
“Coach Imama Amapakabo has been able to welcome the majority of his listed overseas-based professionals, and with the complement of glory-hungry home-based professionals, expects to brush aside the challenge of the Ivorians, Zambia and South Africa in the group phase.
Nigeria will face Cote d’Ivoire at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo on Saturday by 2pm Nigerian time.