U23 AFCON: Top Nigerian Striker To Miss Cote d’Ivoire Opener
Nigeria reach final round of qualifying for U23 AFCON tournament after overcoming Libya 4-2 on aggregate (image courtesy NFF)

Forward Taiwo Awoniyi will miss Nigeria’s U23 Africa Cup of Nations opener against Cote d’Ivoire on 9 November as his German club, Mainz O5, have insisted he will only be released during the FIFA window.

Concise News understands that the tournament, which serves as qualifiers for the men’s football event at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, is not in the international calendar.

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What this means is that the on-loan Liverpool striker will be available for the Group B matches against South Africa and Zambia.

“They (Mainz 05) will only allow me to leave during the international break. I will join the team (Olympic Eagles) in Egypt after our last game on November 9,” Awoniyi told NationSport.

“I wanted to join the team early but the club said I can only go on November 10. That is why I could not make it to Nigeria for the training camp.”

This news medium understands that Awoniyi was an unused substitute during his club’s 8-0 defeat at RasenBallsport Leipzig on Saturday.

Another player out of the Nigerian team’s opener is their captain, Azubuike Okechukwu, as his Turkish club, Istanbul Basaksehir, also refused to release him until the International break.

The top three teams at the tournament in Egypt will represent Africa at the 2020 Olympics.