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Football

West to miss African Nations Cup


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LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Experienced defender Taribo West has been ruled out of the Nigerian squad for the African Nations Cup finals in Tunisia due to injury.

Nigerian FA secretary-general Taiwo Ogunjobi said the Partizan Belgrade player had sustained a knee injury during training at the squad's warm-up base in Faro, Portugal.

The loss is a blow to Nigeria's hopes of winning the tournament, which starts on January 24, for a third time -- although skipper Jay Jay Okocha will be going.

Midfielder Okocha's place was in doubt after worries that money he deposited in a Nigerian bank could be lost after the bank hit trouble last year.

Okocha told his English Premiership club Bolton Wanderers website: "Honestly, I am troubled... I have almost all my money in a bank in Nigeria.

"Now the bank has a problem and I'm in real trouble. I really don't know what to do."

Okocha had said he would prefer to remain with Bolton during the African tournament.

"This money issue is now my big problem with Nigeria, so I want to continue to play for Bolton and earn money to take care of my family," Okocha told a Lagos-based sports radio station.

But Nigerian FA secretary-general Taiwo Ogunjobi told Reuters on Wednesday by telephone from Abuja: "Okocha has given us his assurance he will be going to Tunisia and we'll work towards that."

He was later named in the 22-man squad for the tournament where Nigeria are in Group D with fellow ex-winners South Africa and Morocco, plus debutants Benin.

Okocha was one of seven English-based players included, along with Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu.

Germany-based striker Victor Agali, who stopped playing for his country after the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali, is also named in the pool which has only two home-based players.

"I believe it's a strong squad capable of winning the trophy," Ogunjobi said.



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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