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What Dennis told Nigeria coach about Watford/Afcon issue

Nigeria interim head coach Augustine Eguavoen has revealed what Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis told him after it was reported that the Premier League club refused to release the striker for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Watford stated that the Nigerian federation didn’t request Dennis to take part in the tournament in time.

But according to Eguavoen, who was appointed following Gernot Rohr’s sacking, the relegation-threatened Watford threatened Dennis about leaving to represent Nigeria at Afcon, insisting that they need him in the league.

“Dennis told me that his club had done everything humanly possible for him not to be at Afcon,” said Eguavoen.

“I can’t force it, I reported the matter to the authority, and they also tried. That was why we had to wait until the last second before we pushed the button. Dennis said he wanted to come, but the club was threatening him. What do we do if a player does not want to come? We have to play with what we have,” added Nigeria’s interim coach.

However, Watford coach Claudio Ranieri said that Dennis decided to remain in England for the duration of Africa’s elite nations tournament. “I spoke with him, of course; he wanted to go to play, but also he wanted to help Watford,” he said.

The 24-year-old hitman joined Watford from Club Brugge in June 2021 and has been in good form with eight goals and five assists to his name in 17 matches in the Premier League.

Afcon will run from 9 January to 6 February across five cities and six stadiums in Cameroon, with 52 matches set to be played.

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