The build-up to Nigeria’s maiden appearance at the African Nations Cup for home-based players (CHAN) is gradually taking shape following the gradual process of elimination by substitution yesterday adopted by the Technical crew.
Yesterday afternoon, two players were asked to go for low productivity while four new ones were called up to strengthen the squad ahead of the CHAN tourney in South Africa next month.
The two players dropped are midfielder Mohammed Ajia of Bayelsa United and Elkanemi of Borno defender, Reuben Ogbonnaya. Head coach Stephen Keshi, who spoke through his assistant, Dan ‘The Bull’ Amokachi, said there was little or no time to prepare the squad hence the need to quickly identify tournament materials.
The four players who are expected to join the squad in Abuja immediately are the Bendel Insurance duo of Obannu Erhune and Ikeleji Bello. Others are Warri Wolves midfielder, Ewenike Achibi and Mfon Udoh who recently crossed from Akwa United to Enyimba fc of Aba. “We have been tracking these players for some times now and we want to give them a chance to prove themselves at a critical point like this and we hope they won’t disappoint”, Amokachi declared.
Indications have also emerged that more players who fail to measure up will be asked to go by the weekend after today’s test match against Niger Tornadoes of Minna and another practice match that has been scheduled for Saturday both at the mainbowl of the Abuja National Stadium.
Meanwhile, former CAF and FIFA Executive Committee Member, Dr Amos Adamu, said on Monday that the invitation of some Under-17 players into the Super Eagles may impede their development.
Adamu told NAN in Lagos that the players should be allowed to develop gradually. NAN recalls that Eagles’ chief coach Stephen Keshi recently invited goalkeeper Sunday Alampasu, midfielder Kelechi Iheanacho and forward Taiwo Awoniyi to the team’s camp in Abuja.
The senior male national football team is preparing for the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled for South Africa between Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.
Keshi had called up as part of a preliminary 30-man squad the three players who were members of the 2013 Golden Eaglets team that in October won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE.
“It (the invitation to the Super Eagles) will kill them. If you are 17 years old and you want to play against 23-year-olds, you can get discouraged.
“So, I believe they should be left to grow at their pace,’’ Adamu, a former a former director of sports development at the National Sports Commission observed further.
.He recalled that a coach was once moved from the Under-17 team to a senior team after he excelled at that level, only to fail to live up to expectations.
“We had a coach that was moved to a senior team because he won the U-17 World Cup. But he didn’t make it, even as a coach, not to talk of young players.
“If they (the players) want to jump while they should still be crawling, they will automatically fall,’’ Adamu said. He also warned Eagles to be wary of their Brazil 2014 opponents.
Eagles will play in Group F of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, alongside Argentina, Iran and Bosnia- Herzegovina. “How I wish they win the World Cup. One fundamental thing we mustn’t underestimate is that all the teams that qualified for the World Cup are potential winners.
“So we don’t have to start looking down on a country and feel that they are not threats to us. Every team emerges from a competition .“So no team in Brazil is a cheap party. But I think we are at our best now and with a little bit of good luck, we’ll thrive,” Adamu said. He noted that there was need for the team’s technical crew to give other players a chance, adding that it would help strengthen the team.
“The team is good and has been consistent but we can’t rule out the fact that the team needs to be strengthened in some departments. “Therefore, I think it would be important to recall some players who appear to be doing well in their clubs at the moment,” he said. Nigeria would play its first match in the group stage against Iran, its second against Bosnia and the last one against Argentina.