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By Oluwafemi Oladeji/Lagos
Victorious UAE U-17 World Cup, Golden Eaglets revelation, Kelechi Iheanacho, may not play for Nigeria in its first African Nations Championship (CHAN) appearance next January following the player’s trip to England for contract talks with English Premier League side, Manchester City.
Should the talks succeed as expected, the player is automatically ruled out of the championship meant for only players playing in the country’s domestic league.
The player was released for the trip by Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi on Monday after the lad’s dad put a call through to the coach.
The player, according to reports, has been outstanding in training since called up by Keshi in preparation for the CHAN.
Keshi said in a statement that he had to sanction the departure of the player after his father, James Iheanacho, called him on Monday afternoon requesting the release of his son for the trip to England.
“Initially a young man came declaring that he was the agent of Iheanacho, but I declined to deal with him until I hear from the family because the boy is still a minor. It was soon after my rejection that I got a call from his father who told me that they have gotten travelling visa to the United Kingdom and that I should oblige him with his son’s release. I did and told the young man to go and do the nation proud at whichever club he finally chooses to settle down with”.
Keshi acknowledged that Iheanacho is a talented player but also cautioned that the player should be handled gently and professionally as he navigates his professional career.
The national team also cancelled its second training session for Monday after it appeared that the close to three hours morning training session may have taken its toll on the players.
“We have to be cautious not to push the players too hard so that nobody will break down,” Keshi said.
The Eagles presently in camp for the CHAN 2014 tournament will on Wednesday play its second practice match against Niger Tornadoes of Minna at the Mainbowl of the Abuja National Stadium. Its first game against Prison FC of Abuja, ended 4-1 at the weekend. Another game has also been scheduled for Saturday in a bid to toughen the side for the CHAN tourney. Keshi said it would have been great to play an African country before the start of the tournament but noted that time factor may not permit that.