Football enthusiasts say, Eagles are still growing, harp on inclusion of home-based players

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Some football enthusiasts, on Friday described the Super Eagles as a work in progress, adding that the inclusion of home-based players in the team would be step in the right direction.

It was reported that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had arranged two friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia to prepare the Eagles for the next round of the 2022 AFCON qualifiers, home and away, against Sierra Leone in November.

The Super Eagles team which was basically made up of foreign based players, lost by a lone goal to Algeria in their first game and were held to a 1-1 draw by Tunisia in their final game in Austria.

A cross section of football enthusiasts in separate interviews with the newsmen, commended the NFF for putting together the high quality friendly games while some said it’s imperative to include home-based professionals in the team.

Mouktar Mohammed, the Chairman, FCT Football Association, said that the two friendlies were very interesting test matches, adding that the team was a work in progress.

“We must commend the NFF and Coach Gernot Rohr for lining up these two very tough matches against our continental arch rivals from the North.

“These are top teams in Africa and it was indeed a good test for the new youngsters coming through for the first time.

“These are the kind of situations where the results of the games don’t mean to much even though we don’t go into a match with a mentality to lose,” he said.

Mohammed said the highlight for him was the revelation of some new talents in the team, adding that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the best players were fit and ready for the task ahead.

“I saw some new interesting stream of talents that could potentially fit into the Super Eagles squad, but of course, it will take some time for the players to understand each other and gel as a team.

“All in all, it was positive. But we have two quick AFCON qualifiers coming up and so we must get our acts together and ensure our best players are fit and ready,” he said.

Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman, FCT Football Coaches Association, said he really did not want to dwell on the analysis of the two friendly games, having read a lot of interesting analysis about the matches.

“I however feel concerned about one thing. The friendlies have their purpose. I may not know exactly what the handlers headed by coach Rohr are driving at.

“However, as an individual, I see an opportunity for other players to showcase themselves and prove their capacity for inclusion in the Super Eagles main team.

“We have watched some players who have been hyped beyond their capacity. In summary, I see the Super Eagles undergoing a rebuilding and strengthening process.

“I believe subsequent friendlies will also include our home-based players.”

Bamigboye stressed that there was need for the NFF and coach Rohr to assemble a home-based Super Eagles team that meet at intervals for training and friendlies.

“Permit me to refer to them as the neglected Super Eagles. Neglected in the sense that we only give them attention when AFCON is around the corner.

“While it is easy to mention the names of all Super Eagles players, it is not same with the home based Super Eagles players.

“There is therefore the need for us to have a home based Super Eagles that meet at intervals for training and friendlies.

“If this is sustained and properly maintained, the home based Super Eagles will in no distant future win AFCON and will develop the capacity to be more potent than the Super Eagles,” he said.

On his part, Ralph Chidozie, a renowned Broadcast Sports journalist, expressed disappointment at the performance of the Super Eagles, saying that he expected more from the team in the two friendlies.

“Against Algeria the team played so poor except for few individual showings. Algeria paraded almost a new team while we had several regulars.

“While against Tunisia, I saw a strange line up and wondered the plan of the coach, though they played slightly better than they did against Algeria.

“Our national team has become so ordinary that expectations are so low these days and the level and caliber of players coming into the team do not bring much and some are so mediocre that you wonder how they got invited.”

He stressed that coach Rohr was really not helping matters with his selections and tactics.

“I don’t know why we didn’t get to see any of the other goalkeepers invited in the two games.

“It is also sad that the absence of Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Victor Osimhen were felt despite several players invited. Amongst all the new players invited only two deserve second chances, Zaidu Sanusi and Chidera Ejike.

“In all I was disappointed that we didn’t get a win in the two friendlies and we looked so ordinary,” he said.