From the recently released list of foreign based players to prosecute the qualifier away to Tanzania on September 5th 2015, Coach Sunday Oliseh has given a peek into the type of Super Eagles Nigerians should expect. From his selection, I make five major inferences...
Coach Oliseh has demonstrated that he realizes the importance of continuity, hence he has resorted to the same defensive players who prosecuted the last match against Chad. This is highly essential for synergy in this very crucial department of the team. It is hoped however that Kenneth Otigba, Gbenga Arokoyo and Derik Osede will get a look in over the course of the qualifiers, as other options need to be juggled if we are to achieve the best possible combination at the back.
Proper assessment of players
A major set-back in the Eagles in recent years especially during the last Coach's regime, has been the sentimental selection of players culminating in the team's often lethargic performances.
Some obviously talented players were out rightly and unjustifiably alienated - and painfully so - in favour of mediocre players while others who were plagued by loss of form or injury (which are inevitable in every player's career) were never recalled. Players like the recalled Lukman Haruna, Joel Obi, Obiora Nwankwo and new invitees, Izunna Uzochukwu, and Sylvester Igboun fall in this category.
This is not to say that these players would have automatically made the Eagles great. The issue with sentimental selections is that it is not in the country's interest since some of the country's best players are denied the opportunity of AT LEAST being inviteD and assessED thereby rubbing the team of maximum productivity.
Emmanuel Emenike, the Eagles' best striker over the last few years (though recently dropped due to club instability), has also been duly recalled. Even Anthony Ujah who has for so long failed to click in the Green shirt of the Eagles, has been granted another opportunity.
Invitation based on relevance and necessity
Rabiu Ibrahim and Lukman Haruna have been invited to try to resuscitate the team's ailing creative midfield. Similarly, the invitations of Joel Obi, Obiora Nwankwo and Izunna Uzochukwu have been necessitated by the seeming decline in the performances of regulars Ogenyi Onazi and John Mikel
Emem Eduok, Ahmed Musa and Moses Simon all represent that extra bit of pace and aggression required in the African game, the lack of which has often seen the Eagles struggle against African opposition.
In this transition phase of the Super Eagles, it is very pertinent that plans be made to cover the short- and long-term needs of the team. Carl Ikeme (experienced in the English football circuit for quite a while now) has been recalled, most probably as an experienced, long-term alternative in the goalkeeping position which is suddenly looking deficient with the impending exit of Enyeama. Youngsters Kingsley Madu and Moses Simon have been retained and will look to cement their place in the Eagles fold, for the now and for the future.
The inclusion of players plying their trade within the Nigerian and African leagues is an indicator that where a player plies his trade will not be a barrier to invitations to Oliseh's Super Eagles.
From a player's selection perspective, Coach Sunday Oliseh's first list is clearly an encouraging deviation from the old order. It is hoped he can translate the talent and experience he has been able to pull together not just to conjure up impressive performances and desired results, but also to return the team to its pride of place in World football.