The Nigeria Football Federation said they expect Mikel Obi and Victor Moses to be released by English club Chelsea in time for the AFCON next month.
Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez has been reported as saying he wants to keep Mikel and Victor Moses till at least January 9 for their FA Cup tie against Southampton and Swansea before releasing them for the Nations Cup.
Mikel and Moses, integral players since Benitez took control at Stamford Bridge, are in the Nigeria AFCON squad.
“The tournament starts on the 19th (January), so they will go one or two weeks before,” he said.
“Maybe we can manage to keep them a little bit longer. We will talk with them. They know sometimes the players do not need to go early.
“But at least one week before the 19th, they have to be there.”
However, NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire said that they have not been informed of such.
“Well, we have not been contacted by Chelsea over their wish to delay the release of our players for the Nations Cup,” stated Olajire.
“The players are expected latest by January 4 according to the plan and schedule of the coach, so if anything will change, we have to be notified by the club.”
The Chelsea stars have been granted permission to stay in London until after the New Year, but Benitez is negotiating to keep them for as long as possible as his team become embroiled in a cluttered fixture list.
‘The Blues’ will start their defence of the FA Cup at Southampton on January 5, four days before the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Swansea.
Interim manager Benitez accepts he is unlikely to have them around by the time they play Stoke in the Barclays Premier League on January 12.
Nigeria are already locked in a tug-of-war with another EPL side Newcastle United as regards the release of Shola Ameobi for a training camp in Faro, Portugal.