After the initial “scare” I got at the potential waste of the November 14th friendly against Venezuela through the seeming invitation of an entirely home-based side, it is pleasing that the Eagles’ coaching crew finally took the right path by recalling previously uninvited foreign-based players like Onyekachi Apam and Obafemi Martins for the game. It is also nice to see Austin Ejide, Elderson Echiejile, Nosa Igiebor, Raheem Lawal and Brown Ideye getting another chance for re-assessment.
While I agree that not all players can be invited at the same time, I disagree with the idea of inviting players who are not necessary at a time. With just about two months left, it is of utmost necessity that preference be given to the best in the build up to a major tournament. In view of this, I would think that a more experienced and obviously better Fengor Ogude should have been recalled ahead of Onazi Ogenyi; even more so now that Mikel Obi has “as usual” pulled out of the match.
Also, Dele Adeleye and Gege Soriola should have been given a chance to fight for a shirt in the defense line that needs all the help it can get.
I do not entirely share in the school of thought that “the national team is not a rehabilitation ground” for players because it would be unreasonable not to invite a player who can assuage a specific loophole in a team simply because he is not playing regularly in his club.
Our coaches are paid to use our best players to win games and competitions. They should be smart enough to know when and how to support exceptional players when there have a decline in club fortunes, especially when there are glaring lapses in the team.
Lukman Haruna is a typical example. He may not be having the happiest of times in Dynamo Kiev, but creative propensity such as he possesses is still lacking in the team’s midfield (he proved it over the past weekend by providing two assists, even as a substitute, when his team Dynamo Kyiv dismantled Metalurh Zaporizhya 5 – 0). Obinna Nsofor is also not having a smooth time in Lokomotiv Moscow, but his work-rate, versatility and goal scoring prowess in a green shirt are undeniable.
Going by their experience and their obvious capabilities, certain talented players like these (whether regular or not) deserve to at least be invited and assessed. Otherwise we will keep losing players the same way we lost Emmanuel Ebiede, James Obiorah and – very nearly – Kalu Uche.