The squads have been released for the 2022 Middle East Africa Championship, set to be held from September 27 to October 2 at the Mansah Sabbah Field, University of Ghana, in Legon, Accra.
The tournament will act as part of the qualifying process in the region for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, to be held in France.
Holders Nigeria have named a strong squad including teenager Rio-Osayomwanbo Christoper Corkill, who recently made his first team debut for St Helens in Super League. “Being chosen for Nigeria means a lot to me, and the chance to represent a side of my family that I would love to learn more about is very exciting,” he said. “To do my family proud is the priority for me, and representing them here is something special.
“To have the opportunity to be the trailblazers for African rugby league is also something very exciting, and to make the people of Nigeria proud of our performances and journey would mean a lot to the team.”
Head coach of hosts Ghana, Andy Gilvary, noted: “The boys are ready, they have undergone some intense training. We have several new guys in the team this year - Yakubu Suleman, David Nartey, Jonas Moorkaar, Bawa Bright, Francis Lawson, Isaac Akuoko, Levi Osei and Sean Sabutey - and they are talents to watch out for in the MEA region.”
His opposite number for Cameroon, Khalil Njoya, confirmed: “This is the strongest possible team we could have assembled to go into training camp, and the players have all evolved so much. The final selection will not be easy but whoever will be out there will have merited their spot. We did not get the pleasure to test Nigeria in 2019, and potentially qualifying for the 2025 World Cup would be a dream come true for us.”
Kenya has taken the place of Morocco and according to their team manager, John Mbai, they are set to make an impact in their first major tournament. “The selection of the squad has been a very tough exercise as there was very little to separate the group. We are excited about the possibilities that this team can achieve, and I am sure they will do their best to give a good account of themselves.”
In the opening round of fixtures, Kenya will face Ghana and Cameroon take on Nigeria.
Jean Claude Bidjana, Armel Damdja, Cyrille Kamole, Nzokou Martial, Hermand Nguele, Patrick Nkouak, Lamare Oudi (Bulls RL), Emmanuel Tientchue (Gorilla RL), Mouhamed Embella, Christian Tedjou, Loic Tsasse (Guepard RL), Philippe Ambassa, Bekolo Elie Jean Bliase, Ledoux Fosso, Fabrice Joufang, Frank Watio (Panda RL) Pitoile Assomo, Paul Atungsiri Ndifor, Georgane Ngoufack (Rock RL) Carol Manga, Khalil Njoya (Unattached)
Yakubu Suleman (Accra Majestics), Jonas Moorkaar (Accra Panthers), Anane Benjamin, Bawa Bright, Geotrah Desmond, Collins Ofosu, Nigel Sackey (Bulls), Levi Osei (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sean Sabutey (Glebe Dirty Reds), Oliver Puman (Nungua Tigers), Jonathan Adotey, Philip Asomani, John Bless Mensah (Pirates), Emmanuel Acheampong, Riddick Alibah, Jordan Annan, William Pearce Biney, Chris da Gama, Francis Lawson,David Nartey (Skolars), Isaac Akuoko (Wong Roos)
Denish Ndinya (AP), John Awiti Oketch, Raymond Ekutu (Rhinos), Tony Khadambi, Brony Lucky, Timothy Thimba (Ruffians), Joel Inzuga, Eliakim Kichoi, Celestine Mboi, Floyd Wambwire, (Sharks), James Maranga, Ramadan Masete, Finely Mokoro, Remi Odhiambo, Victor Odhiambo, Philimon Olang, Paul Seda (Winam), Horus Alela, Ahmed Hamed, Collin Ochieng, Wyclif Ratemo (Wolves)
Anthony Tuoyo Egodo (Birmingham Mosley RFC), Michael Ayodeji Ogunwole (British Army), Abdullah Balogun (Castleford Tigers), Kalu Shedrack Agwu (Eko Trinity), Daniel Okoro (Hull KR), Jude Abrakson, Emmanuel Onyekwe Ebuk, Julius Godwin, Nuhu Ibrahim, Gabriel John, Issa Omale, Ibrahim Suraju, Bashir Usman, Obi Wilsom (Kano Lions), Azuka Chika, Daniel John, Isah Lawal-Saulawa, Olisa Nwokedi, Kelvin Olisa, Akeem Yusuf (Lagos Haven), Rio-Osayomwanbo Christoper Corkill (St Helens)