Lagos - I am not against Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh’s 18-man list of foreign based players called up for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania as it is his job so to do, but my main concern is the result after 90 minutes.
I will also absolve Oliseh for explaining that “we’re going to try everybody, we cannot invite everybody at the same time,” but if his speech at his unveiling ceremony in Abuja is anything to go by, then I must say he has contradicted himself.
I hardly can see any difference between his 18 man list of foreign based players (even the invited home based) and that of former coach Stephen Keshi.
From the list of midfielders invited - Joel Obi (Torino FC, Italy); Izunna Ernest Uzochukwu (FC Amkar Perm, Russia); Obiora Nwankwo (Coimbra FC, Portugal); Lukman Haruna (Anzhi Machatsjkala, Russia); Rabiu Ibrahim (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Oliseh may seem to be attempting to put together a ‘younger’ side, but he disregarded whether they’re from a top league or not, neither did he consider how these players will quickly sync since they’ve not played together in a very long time.
Not to take anything from them, some of the invited midfielders were in action in their club’s last fixture and did quit well. Joel Obi was introduced in the 67th minute for Afriyie Acquah in a 4-1 win over Pescara on Sunday. Nwankwo Obiorah played all 90 minutes as Pacos de Ferreira beat his Academica side 1 – 0 in Portugal on Monday. Rabiu Ibrahim played all duration to help his side Trencin defeat DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda 2-0 in Slovakia, but Haruna Lukman, who is on loan from Dynamo kyiv, was not listed in Anzhi Makhachkala’s 1-1 draw with Amkar on Friday.
Also read: Oliseh denies making U-turn on players’ selection
John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses were also not listed despite Oliseh’s visit at the Wembley Stadium during the Community Shield game between Chelsea and Arsenal. They both have not played a competitive game for Chelsea this season and should be held responsible for the omission.
However, the omission of Odion Ighalo could pose the biggest distraction ahead of the AFCON qualifier away at Tanzania. Ighalo scored in Nigeria’s last game against Chad, he also scored six goals in Watford’s pre-season games and has scored one goal in two games in the English Premier League this season.
But Oliseh was quoted as explaining that “Odion Ighalo is a fellow Nigerian but we cannot invite everybody at the same time. We can only play eleven players at once and we have two other strikers and we’re going to try everybody but let’s see the ones we have now.” That’s okay, no offence taken bro.
Considering the importance of the tie against Tanzania, being an away fixture, and the still-fresh pain of not qualifying for the 2015 Nations Cup, Nigerians will begin to throw stones (condemn) at Oliseh and of course his employers if the team fails to secure at least one point from Dar es Salaam.
In the Super Eagles attack, I’m optimistic that Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa will gel, and in the defense I hope Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo don’t make silly mistakes. Coach please take note.
In conclusion, I officially welcome Sunday Oliseh to the seat of the most difficult job in the world, and strongly advice he gets a shock or criticism absorber.
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