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Nigeria seek Okocha's release for World Cup qualifier

© Reuters Limited 2001

LAGOS, June 20 (Reuters) - Nigeria have asked French first division club Paris St Germain to release midfielder Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha from pre-season training so he can play a World Cup qualifier against Sudan.

Nigerian Football Association (NFA) press officer Austin Mgbolu said PSG's instruction that Okocha report for pre-season training on July 7 would mean the player would be unavailable for the Sudan clash on July 1 in Omdurman, unless he reported late for the club's programme. "So we've requested that PSG allow him to be available for our match and report to the club afterwards," Mgbolu said. Okocha is among 36 Nigerian players invited to start preparations for the Sudan match in northern Kano city.

Mgbolu said training would now start on Thursday, a day later than originally planned. "Coach Amodu Shaibu and his crew asked for a day's extension after returning on Monday from Windhoek, where we defeated Namibia 2-0 in the last group match in the African Nations Cup qualifier," he said. Nigeria won the group to qualify for the 16-nation finals in Mali next year. Mgbolu denied local newspaper reports that Nigeria's former captain Daniel Amokachi had been

invited for the Sudan match. "Those we believe can do the job are the ones we named on Monday," he said. Nigeria are second in World Cup African zone group B with 10 points from six matches, two points behind surprise leaders Liberia. Sudan are third with nine points but have a game in hand. The top team will qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.

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