Nigeria Didn’t Meet Deadline To Invite Dennis; They Changed Manager, Everything – Ranieri
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By Agency Report
As the cold war between the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and English football club side, Watford over the exclusion of striker Emmanuel Dennis from the Super Eagles 28-man squad for next week’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, rages, Watford manager, Claude Ranieri has blamed the NFF for not meeting up with FIFA requirement on invitation of player.
The former Chelsea coach said Watford did not disrespect Nigeria over the treatment of Emmanuel Dennis and insists the Super Eagles missed the deadline to call up the striker for AFCON as he stays to help the Hornets’
Nigeria announced on Saturday that striker Dennis has been ‘excused’ from the squad in a major boost for fourth-bottom Watford who were accused by the Nigeria Football Federation of ‘baring fangs’ ahead of the frontman’s removal from the squad.
Dennis, Watford’s eight-goal top scorer, had been included in Augustine Eguavoen’s 28-man party for the tournament in Cameroon.
However, Daily mail reports that Ranieri raised doubts about Dennis’s involvement following Watford’s midweek defeat to West Ham by revealing Nigeria may have missed the deadline to inform the Hornets of their intention to select him and that administration error gave Watford a choice whether or not to release him.
A statement from the Nigeria Football Federation on Friday said: ‘In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis whose English Premier League club is baring fangs, has been excused.’
Ranieri said: ‘I knew they were speaking, the Watford board and Nigeria board and I accept every decision they fine and that for me is finished.
‘No [we have not disrespected AFCON]. We respect everybody. They have a lot of players and they changed the manager then changed everything.
‘We were ready to give them players. They didn’t do this and the two boards spoke and for me it’s ok. I am only the manager, the coach and I accept everything.’
There are also suggestions that a lack of assurance about the role he was due to play at AFCON also played a part in the decision to release Dennis from the squad.
Ranieri said: ‘Of course he wanted to go to play but also he wanted to help Watford.’
Watford play two league games plus an FA Cup tie between the date Dennis would have departed and the AFCON final.
They include crucial bottom-of-the-table battles against Newcastle and Norwich.
And they will now have the scorer or creator of 59 per cent of their goals this season available at a key time in their bid to beat the drop.