Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria have all announced initial train-on squads for the second Middle East Africa Championship, to be held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria from 2-5 October.
Hosts Nigeria have opted for a 60-man party, initially, including Canterbury Bulldog’s Jayden Okunbor, who has been named vice captain, young Leeds prop Muizz Mustapha, who has impressed on loan at Newcastle Thunder, and the Hull KR emerging talent Elliott Wallis. Also included are Super League stars Tuoyo Egodo and Sadiq Adebiyi, and established names Rob Worrincy (skipper), Will Sharp and Daniel Igbinedion.
They join join local players from Eko Trinity, Kano Lions and Logos Haven, as Nigeria’s eight-team domestic competition is set to kick off as a pre-cursor to the tournament.
NRL vice-president and general manager Ade Adebisi noted: “We have held a number of successful national training sessions in the capital and in the North of the country and look forward to being joined by stars from overseas. I’m excited to have reached another milestone on the targets we set at the beginning of this wonderful journey. Nigeria is blessed with so much raw talent and I can’t wait for the world to see what we eventually accomplish.”
Jayden Okunbor added: “It is an absolute honour, that I will forever be proud of. Growing up never thinking Nigeria would ever have a national team and now to be named a vice captain means so much to me and my family. “To be a part of what could possibly be the beginning of something amazing also really excites me and I can’t wait to rip in with the boys.”
Nigeria will face Ghana in their opening match. “Passion and discipline is what makes champions and is what we have,” claimed Riddick Alibah, Captain of the Skolars club there. “Arriving as the pride of our nation we will leave as champions win or lose. This means more to us than just a tournament, it is a springboard for us and the region.”
Carol Manga, CRL general manager of the other debutants, Cameroon noted: “Five men’s teams in Cameroon are currently in the middle of their club season and there is huge excitement at squad training.”
Jean Marc Akoa Akoa of the Sahel club in Groua added: “I am so happy to be shortlisted to the national rugby league team of Cameroon. This motivates me to work more and more, to be physically and technically at the level required by the staff to be selected.”
Cameroon will face the previously dormant national team, whose president Yamina Abdesselem, said: “Our men’s national team will come mainly from the six-team domestic championship. This tournament will give another dimension to the game in Morocco, and also contribute to the development of the sport in North Africa. “The 30 players in our squad have the subject of various selection stages, the last of which – involving everyone – will take place south of Casablanca from 26-30 September.”
Moroccan Skipper Souhail Ait Alla from the Gulmim Essalam club said: “This will be the third time I represent my country; first against Lebanon in 2011 and two years later with GB Student Pioneers. We will try our best to be competitive. We know we are going to face great teams but our first goal is to tell the world that Africa are coming; our Federation never gave up.”
Remond Safi, the Tournament Director confirmed that: “The domestic African clubs provide the majority of players in each national squad, which is a major step forward for the region and justification for this tournament. It will be a wonderful spectacle in Lagos and everyone is looking forward to it.”
Cameroon Train On Squad : Diryl Tchinda (Bandjoun Rl Douala), Armel Damdja, Bidjana Jean Claude, Nguele Hermand, Hamadou Moussa, Patrick Eugene Nkouak, Nanga Yannick Olama, Tsoungui Alphonse Olama, Lamere Mfochive Oudi, Yannick Noah Simon, (Bulls Rl Yaoundé), Tientcheu Nguekam Emmanuel, Moutcheu Jangue Raphael, Yohan C. Kwedi, (Gorila Rl Douala), Kallasi Nguiagueu Arnaud, Meli Arnaud Cyrille, Embella Mouhamed, Christian T. Pegou, (Guepard Rl Douala), Eyong Arno Bienvenue, Bekolo Elie, Watio Franck, Fabrice Yepmo Joufang, Fosso Ledoux, Arnaud Ndjeng, Chieyem Prince (Panda Rl Youndé), Ndifor Paul Atungsiri, Akoa Akoa Jean Marc, Ngoufack Geordane, Kuate Talom Steve (Rock Rl Douala), Aliou Garga, Malai Alban, (Sahel Rl Garoua)
Ghana Train On Squad : Marcus Alexander Amate Neil, Albert Abeku Amonoo Nelson (Brixton Bulls Rlfc), Benjamin Anane, Kwabena Afful Cleland, Collins Kweku Ofosu, Desmond Atsu Geotrah, Nigel Nii Ampim Sackey, On Yelib Oliver Puman, (Bulls Rlfc – Ghana), Reece Connor Rance (Coventy Bears), Issac Akwasi Akuoko (Manly), Samuel A. Aboagye Sarpong, Darryl Amoatey, Nasiru Abdul Latif, Eric Tettegah, (Panthers Rlfc – Ghana), Calivinson Accorlor, Philip Asomani, John Bless Mensah, Enoch Abam Niikoi, Christian Fafa Okpattah, (Pirates Rlfc – Ghana), Alibah Riddick Nana Abrokwa, Richard Amevor, Isaac Jordan Annan, Elikem Koesi Asafo, Edward Danquah Donkor, Chris Da Gama, Michael Quatey, William Pearce Biney, (Skolars Rlfc – Ghana), Kwabena Afful Cleland (Unattached)
Morocco Train On Squad : Souhail Ait Alla, Mouslim Ali, Boujoua Ayoub, Ahmed El Faiz, Brahim Aferhane, Ouhcham Mahdi (Association Marocaine Assalam Rugby Xiii) Mohssin Afouks, Zakaria Attarch, Khalid Azghikh, Moussa Bencharki, Ismail Edhouz, Raid El Fath, Mbark Hani, Yassin Oujbor, Marouane Mounwir, Chnikhl Youssef, (Association Black Eagles Rugby Xii) Ilias El Fezazi (Racing Club Baho Xiii), Iliass Laachiri (Lyon Villeurbanne Rugby Xiii), Amine Addaqqouni, Oussama El Abdioui, Amine Belaachj, Aissa El Hamdaoui, Soufiane Kissi, Ali Sambo, Bilal Zariouh (Nadour Arkmane Rugby Xiii) Naji Anas (Racing Club De Carpentras Du Comtat Xiii) Ismail Edhouz, Taleb Idriss, Jarif Lachen, Marouanne Mounwir, Yassin Oujbor, (South Lionsrugby Xiii), Badreddine Medkouri (Sporting Treiziste Toulonnais) Adam Ed Diche (Union Sportive Ferralaise Xiii),
Nigeria Train On Squad : Alamin Ajelara, Azeez Ajelara, Benjamin Jegede, Jordan Adebumowa, Mathew Jegede, Micheal Worrincy, (Africa United Australia) Jayden Okunbor ( Canterbury Bulldogs) Tuoyo Egodo (Castleford Tigers) Daniel Igbinedion, Robert Worrincy, (Dewsbury Rams) Hsa Harrison, Nosakhare Agwoje, Oladele Abiodun, Emmanuel Ayewe, Eneji Michael Iyeshi, Francis Olatunbosun, Shittu Isiaka Eko Trinity) William Sharp (Halifax Rlfc England) Elliot Wallis (Hull Kingston Rovers England) Jude Abrakson, Alex Richard, Issa Omale, Obi Wilson, Gabriel John, Joshua Etim (Kano Gazelles) Samuel Akpabio, Christian Williams, Sani Mohammed, Ibrahim Suraju, Nuhu Ibrahim, Bashir Usman (Kano Lions)Prince Nwauzor, Kelechi Anozie, Shedrack Kalu, Sukirudeen Alameen, Buni Mba, Sodiq Sakariyau, Emmanuel Peter, Michael Clement, Izuchukwu Nwaire, Monday Samali, (Lagos Broncos) Jeremiah Peters, Azuka Kelvin, Stephen Kiki, Olisa Kelvin, John Precious, Eric Olualogbo, Daniel John, Prince Samuel, Ayo Johnson, Quadri Kareem, Mark Macaulay, (Lagos Haven) Muizz Mustapha (Leeds Rhinos England) Sadiq Adebiyi (London Broncos England) Jubril Olajide (Manchester Rangers England) Isah Lawal Saulawa (Northants Uni England) Matthew Komolafe (Parramatta Eels Australia) Godson Sado ( St Albans England) Boluaji Fagborun (Unattached)