Watford coach, Claudio Ranieri has said the ongoing dispute over Super Eagles striker Emmanuel Dennis is over after Nigeria accused the Premier League club of ‘threatening’ the striker to prevent him travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations.
On Friday December 31, Nigeria confirmed that Watford top scorer Dennis had been ‘excused’ from their squad having originally been included, claiming his club had been ‘baring fangs’ to force his withdrawal.
Ranieri revealed in midweek that Nigeria missed a deadline to inform Watford of their intention to select Dennis for the tournament and that administration error gave them scope to reject his call-up.
Super Eagles interim manager Augustine Eguavoen claimed: ‘We tried to reach out to the club but the club was like: “No, we will not allow Dennis to go”.
‘Dennis also told me that his club had done everything humanly possible for him not be at the AFCON.
‘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 wants to come but the club are threatening him, let me use the word, threatening him.
‘What do we do if a player does not want to come? What are you going to do? We have to play with what we have.’
Following Watford’s 1-0 defeat by Tottenham on Saturday, Ranieri responded to Eguavoen’s allegations, saying: ‘I think Nigeria have to speak to the [Watford] board and not the manager. I am the manager, the player stays here, I’m happy and for me, it is finished.
While Dennis will remain in England, Watford will lose AFCON-bound Nigerian defender William Troost-Ekong, Morocco pair Adam Masina and Imran Louza plus Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr.