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Akpoguma may feature against Algeria

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Former Germany U-20 Captain, Kevin Akpoguma may feature in this weekend’s international friendly match against Algeria following his clearance by world football governing body, FIFA, to switch allegiance to Nigeria.

The Super Eagles will meet Algeria in the first of two international friendly games in Vienna, Austria on Friday. Akpoguma has been in the Eagles’ camp since the squad came together on Monday, but his stay in Vienna was initially aimed at getting him acquainted with the squad ahead of his clearance by FIFA to play for Nigeria.

And now that FIFA has granted his wish, a Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) official told The Guardian yesterday that the coaches are looking at the possibility of giving the Hoffenheim central defender his first cap for Nigeria.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, said Akpoguma, who first came to attention when he led the German team against Nigeria in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, has started training with the Super Eagles.

With Akpoguma’s inclusion, the Super Eagles now have six central defenders in the Austria camp. The others position are Kenneth Omeruo, Leon Balogun, Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong and Semi Ajayi.

Meanwhile, Algeria coach, Djamel Belmadi, has called up 24 players to the squad that will face Nigeria on Friday. Belmadi, who won the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations with Les Fennecs, recalled a full list of overseas-based players, since the Algerian championship, like its Nigerian version, has been at a standstill since last March due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The new players on the list are defenders Abdeljalil Medioub (CD Tondela / Portugal) and Maxime Spano-Rahou (Valenciennes / France), as well as midfielder Mehdi Zerkane (Girondins de Bordeaux / France).

Others are also returning to the squad after a very long absence, including Mohamed Reda Halaïmia (K. Beerschot VA, Belgium), Zinedine Ferhat (Nîmes Olympique, France) and Farid Boulaya (FC Metz, France).

The African Champions will face Nigeria on Friday (9 October) at Worthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt, Austria. They will play against Mexico four days later at Cars-Jeans Stadion in The Hague, the Netherlands.

In the full Algerian squad are goalkeepers Raïs M’bolhi (Ettifaq, Saudi Arabia), Izzedine Doukha (Al-Raed, Saudi Arabia), and Alexandre Oukidja (FC Metz, France).

The defenders are Mohamed Salim Fares (Lazio, Italy), Aïssa Mandi (Real Betis, Spain), Ramy Bensebaïni (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), Jean Mehdi Tahrat (Abha, Saudi Arabia), Mohamed Reda Halaïmia (K. Beerschot VA, Belgium), Mehdi Zeffane (Kylia Sovetov Samara, Russia), Abdeljalil Medioub (CD Tondela, Portugal), and Maxime Spano-Rahou (Valenciennes, France).

To vie for positions in the midfield are Adlène Guedioura (Al-Gharafa, Qatar), Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan, Italy), Mehdi Abeïd (Nantes, France), Mehdi Zerkane (Girondins de Bordeaux, France), Sofiane Feghouli (Galatasaray, Turkey), and Haris Belkebla (Stade Brestois, France).

Skipper Ryad Mahrez (Manchester City, England) leads the attack, which also has Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd, Qatar), Farid Boulaya (Metz, France), Yacine Brahimi (Al-Rayyan, Qatar), Saïd Benrahma (Brentford, England), Zinedine Ferhat (Nîmes Olympique, France), and Andy Delort (Montpellier HSC, France).

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