Middlesbrough's Karanka delighted with Omeruo's international failure

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is pleased that Kenneth Omeruo missed out on qualification for the AFCON.

Omeruo featured for Nigeria on Wednesday, as the Super Eagles drew 2-2 with South Africa to end third in their group.

Despite a strong end to their qualification campaign, a poor start left them with two draws and two defeats, leaving them to require a victory against group winners South Africa if they wanted to qualify. However, two Sone Aluko goals were not enough to clinch victory, and the likes of John Obi Mikel and Vincent Enyeama will be missing out on appearing at the tournament in January.

Whilst bad for their nation, it hugely benefits their respective clubs, and one manager has admitted that he is pleased with the Super Eagles missing out, with Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka thankful that Kenneth Omeruo will be turning out in the Championship at the turn of the year.

21-year-old Omeruo, currently on-loan at the Riverside from Premier League leaders Chelsea, has been a solid presence in the defence who have conceded the fewest goals in the entire Championship, leading Boro to within one point of top spot. Karanka admitted that Omeruo will be disappointed to not be turning out for his country at such a well-respected tournament, but claimed that he is selfishly thankful for the Super Eagles failure to qualify.

Speaking to the official Boro website, Karanka said: “It’s good for us that Ken [Omeruo] will be available in January and February.

“I think about my team and the club, and thinking selfishly is good for me and the club.

“Ken will be disappointed because it’s important for players to be involved in these kind of major tournaments, but I’m sure he’s going to be happy being here because the team is playing really well and he’s the kind of player who likes to be involved with the team.”

Having featured for Nigeria on Wednesday, it is unknown whether Omeruo will return match-fit in time for this weekend, with Boro traveling to Wigan looking to move atop the Championship table.

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