Abakaliki - Vincent Okpalaka, a former Rangers International FC of Enugu defender, has urged the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to allow Emmanuel Emenike to recover from injury before inviting him for duty.
Okpalaka told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abakaliki that the striker should be allowed to regain full fitness before inviting him for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
It would be recalled that Emenike sustained a hamstring injury during the Super Eagles’ 4-1 drubbing of the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the semi-final of the recently concluded 2013 AFCON.
The player, however, said on Saturday that he was back to fitness and ready to resume training with his club Locomotive Moscow of Russia.
"Inviting him to play for the Super Eagles now, especially against Kenya in a World Cup Qualifier on March 23, would pile intense pressure on him which might be counter-productive.
"He should at least be allowed to concentrate on club duties for at least two months to enable him get fully prepared to withstand the rigours of international football,’’ he said.
The former Rangers defender urged the NFA to emulate the Ghana FA that decided to allow two of its key players more time with their club sides in order to be fit.
"Ghana conceded to Michael Essien and Sulley Mundari’s requests, to be allowed to concentrate on club duties, to regain full fitness after recovering from injuries.
"Their subsequent exclusion from the AFCON 2013 squad, made them to regain their places in their respective clubs thereby placing them in a good stead for future invitations,’’ Okpalaka said.
He advised Coach Stephen Keshi to use the opportunity to test some new players to also come and prove their mettle.
"Instead of rushing Emenike back to national team duties, players like Kalu Uche and Obafemi Martins, should be invited.
"Such invitation would bring out the desired competitiveness from the players and ensure optimum result for the team,” he said.
Okpalaka, however, warned Keshi not to invite players such as Shola Ameobi and Danny Shittu, who shunned the team’s invitation for the Nations Cup.
"Inviting both players now would dampen the morale of players who had displayed unbridled patriotism to national team cause.
"Such an act can affect the current harmony being experienced in the team,” he said.