Utaka still missing from Nigerian squad

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Kanu’s Portsmouth teammate John Utaka was not with him.

Team officials did not offer reasons for Utaka’s non-arrival. “We are sure he will be here by tomorrow,” was the official line.

It is not clear if Kanu will be involved in the friendly tune-up against Sudan this afternoon.

Chievo Verona striker Obinna Nsofor continued to underline his importance to the Super Eagles when he scored to lead his team to a 1-0 victory in the practice kick-about in Malaga.

Coach Berti Vogts divided the 23 players into two squads, with Dele Aiyenugba the only player on the bench, although he came on for Austin Ejide in the second half.

Nsofor scored in the first half following a neat pass from Osaze Odemwingie to beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama with a fine finish.

Although this was only a practice game, it was played with high intensity and speed, with players going at full-blooded throttle.

Officials were however quick to point out that the composition of the teams in no way reflected any indication of the coach’s thinking ahead of his first game at the Nations Cup.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba left Lagos last night for the Super Eagles camp in Malaga.

NFA Deputy Secretary General Musa Amadu told snl24.com/kickoff that the Minister was accompanied by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports Hon Heineken Lokpobiri.

With the Minister’s arrival, the Super Eagles may not make a planned stopover in Lagos before heading for Accra, according to Amadu.

“Our tentative programme is to leave here on January 16, but we will confirm the actual departure date by next week,” he stated.