By Ben Efe
Barcelona FC defender, Elohor Godswill Ekpolo stated that it was hurting missing the matches of the CAF Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations, which enters its semi-final stage today with Nigeria facing hosts Senegal.
Ekpolo a stalwart in the Barca team B, was one of the overseas players invited to camp by coach Samson Siasia ahead of the tournament, which will determine the nations that will represent Africa at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But the youngster was denied participation by Barcelona as he was crucial to their campaign in the second division of the Spanish league.
“It was painful missing the tournament. But there is little I can do as I did not get clearance to report by my club,” said Ekpolo who is also very effective in the midfield and can score goal.
However, he added that he has been following the activities of the Olympic Eagles in Senegal and he wished that Nigeria qualify for the Olympics as they take on Senegal in the semi-final.
“I have been following the team. And my prayer is that they qualify for the Olympics.
“This is because by then I hope to be available to contribute to the success of the team. I have also been in touch with coach Siasia, he understood my predicament,” added the 20-year-old Delta-born player.
This was his first invitation to the national team, despite declaring his interest to play for the national junior teams, since 2012, when he came into limelight with the Barcelona juniors. He captained the Barca juniors to winning local league and UEFA junior champions league in 2013.
“He will be very useful to the U-23 team. This is because the team needs fortification in the defence and midfield these are the positions he thrives and I am sure that he can fit in very well.
“The Barcelona team B are mounting a serious challenge for the title. That was why they couldn’t let him join the team in Dakar,” said a source very close to the player.