Watford boss Claudio Ranieri has rejected suggestions the club has disrespected the Africa Cup of Nations after Emmanuel Dennis was forced out of the Nigeria squad due to an admin error.
The Super Eagles missed the deadline to request the striker’s release from Watford, and this morning the Nigerian Football Federation accused the Premier League side of “baring fangs” over the outcome, as they confirmed Dennis would not be involved, with Slavia Prague’s Peter Olayinka replacing him.
Dennis will be available to Watford, where he has scored eight goals in 18 appearances this season, instead of travelling to Cameroon for the tournament, which begins on January 9 and runs until February 6.
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"No, no. No, we respect everybody,” said Ranieri, after it was suggested that Watford are disrespecting the tournament.
"They have a lot of players, and they changed the manager then they change everything, and then we were ready.
We knew we were ready to give the players, but they didn't do this. And then the two boards spoke and then for me it's OK.
"I am only the manager, only the coach, and I accept everything."
Nigeria, describing Dennis as an “in-form, rapid raider”, were clearly irritated by the development, but it is not known how the player himself feels about missing out on the tournament. Ranieri insists he is happy to stay.
"I've spoken with him, of course he wanted to go, to play, but he also wanted to help Watford,” said the Italian.
"I accept the decision of the board and the Nigeria team."
Dennis would have missed up to five Watford matches, depending on Nigeria’s progression and his club’s participation in the FA Cup, but he will now be available as Ranieri’s side attempt to move clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
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