Ranieri insists Watford did NOT disrespect Nigeria over Dennis

Claudio Ranieri says Watford did NOT disrespect Nigeria over the treatment of Emmanuel Dennis and insists the Super Eagles MISSED the deadline to call up the striker for AFCON as he stays to help the Hornets’ survival bid

  • Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis has been ‘excused’ from Nigeria’s AFCON squad
  • Claudio Ranieri said they missed a deadline to inform the club of his inclusion 
  • Ranieri insisted that Watford did not disrespect Nigeria over his selection 

Claudio Ranieri insisted Watford had not disrespected the Africa Cup of Nations after Nigeria confirmed talisman Emmanuel Dennis will no longer be travelling to the tournament.

Striker Dennis has been ‘excused’ from the squad in a major boost for fourth-bottom Watford who were accused by the Nigeria Football Federation of ‘baring fangs’ ahead of the frontman’s removal from the squad.

Dennis, Watford’s eight-goal top scorer, had been included in Augustine Eguavoen’s 28-man party for the tournament in Cameroon. 

Emmanuel Dennis will not link up with Nigeria at AFCON, with the striker ‘excused’ from duty

However Ranieri raised doubts about Dennis’s involvement following Watford’s midweek defeat to West Ham by revealing Nigeria may have missed the deadline to inform the Hornets of their intention to select him and that administration error gave Watford a choice whether or not to release him.

A statement from the Nigeria Football Federation on Friday said: ‘In-form rapid raider Emmanuel Dennis whose English Premier League club is baring fangs, has been excused.’

Ranieri said: ‘I knew they were speaking, the Watford board and Nigeria board and I accept every decision they fine and that for me is finished. 

 Ranieri has said that Nigeria missed the deadline to call-up Dennis, who is thriving at Watford

‘No [we have not disrespected AFCON]. We respect everybody. They have a lot of players and they changed the manager then changed everything. 

‘We were ready to give them players. They didn’t do this and the two boards spoke and for me it’s ok. I am only the manager, the coach and I accept everything.’

There are also suggestions that a lack of assurance about the role he was due to play at AFCON also played a part in the decision to release Dennis from the squad.

Ranieri said: ‘Of course he wanted to go to play but also he wanted to help Watford.’

Watford play two league games plus an FA Cup tie between the date Dennis would have departed and the AFCON final.

They include crucial bottom-of-the-table battles against Newcastle and Norwich.

And they will now have the scorer or creator of 59 per cent of their goals this season available at a key time in their bid to beat the drop.

The Watford boss is sure that Dennis is OK with the situation, despite wanting to go AFCON

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