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Portland’s Bright Dike out of Nigeria’s plans for Africa

Jan 11, 2013, 2:38 PM EDT

Dike, center, could prove to be a forward that will thrive at Toronto. Getty Images

There are loads of reasons to watch the upcoming African Cup of Nations.

You can start with ample stores of great players, none as well-rounded as Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, who will guide the Ivory Coast efforts.

There are favorites and underdogs. (No matter what competition, no matter the sport, don’t we all love to root for the lesser heralded sides?) May we suggest Ethiopia, returning to the tournament for the first time in 31 years.

There’s good soccer, starting with the oddsmakers choices to take the crown: Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana, Nigeria and host South Africa.

Alas, for MLS followers, today does bring one reason fewer to follow the tournament. Portland’s Bright Dike, won’t be part of Nigeria squad as hoped.

The Timbers attacker (pictured, center) raised those hopes last week, scoring spectacularly in a friendly against Catalonia. Regardless, Nigerian officials informed Dike that he was not in the squad that will travel to South Africa for the tournament that begins a week from Saturday.

The entire tournament schedule is here.

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