New Kids On The Bloc, Emordi Applauds Eguavoen's Squad



For inviting players from the  Nigerian League to be part of the Eagles’ squad being  used to prosecute international matches, Okey Emordi of Enyimba of Aba has praised  ex-international, Austin Eguavoen, saying he is on the right course.


Eguavoen, a member of the Tunisia 1994 set of Super Eagles that won the Nations Cup,  has taken bold steps as coach of the Eagles by inviting players from the Nigerian  League for next month’s proposed  international friendly match against Iran in  Tehran.

The former Enyimba of Aba coach on Monday released a 20-man-list, with seven  players: Bassey Akpan, Chibuzor Okonkwo, Showemimo Wasiu, Valentine Nwabili, Anyanwu  Emmanuel, Eneji Otegba and Saka Ayo from the local League. And, Emordi believes his  decision is a sign of better things to come for the local players.

Before now, players from the Nigerian League have always played second fiddle to the  legion of Nigerian players plying their trade in Europe and other parts of the  world, with most coaches using the locals as training materials. They feel that the  home-based stars are not good enough to represent the country, but Eguavoen, a  former Partizan Belgrade of Bulgaria defender has since changed the notion.

However, Eguavoen’s decision to invite seven local players  for the 17 November  international friendly was seen by Emordi as a welcome development. The coach,  who  helped Enyimba to win the Confederation of African Football, CAF Champions League in  2004 hailed Eguavoen.

“Seven players are among the 20-man list for next month’s friendly against Iran.  This means players from our league are also good and will play alongside their  counterparts from Europe.

“It annoys me when I heard people calling players from the Nigerian League local  players or home-based. Those with such belief must have a rethink because most of  the players, who are now playing in Europe started their career here in Nigeria,”  Emordi said.

In a related development, officials of the Nigerian Premier League, NPL, condemned  comments credited to the  first choice goalkeeper of the Eagles, Vincent Enyeama,  that players in the League are not ripe enough for international football.

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Head  Media and Publicity of NPL, Emeka Nwanni, floored Enyeama’s assertion that the  home-based footballers were to blame for the Eagles’ 0-1 loss in the Nations Cup  qualifying match against Guinea recently.

According to Nwani; “Enyeama appears to have forgotten where he started his career  from. I recall very well how he got into Enyimba before the then coach Adegboye  Onigbinde gave him a chance to debute at the 2002 FIFA World Cup against England. If  Onigbinde had  seen him as a home-based player that time, I wonder if he would be  playing professional football in Israel”.

Meanwhile, Head of the Technical Department of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF,  Emmanuel Ikpeme, explained to that the decision to invite the seven  players was not punitive, but meant to try out younger players.

He said: “There is nothing special in the decision to invite or drop some players  from the Eagles ahead of an international match. We just want to try  some young  players so that we can strengthen the team. It also does not mean that the players  left out of next month’s game are no longer members of the team.

“They are the key members of the squad, but we need to give other players a chance  to see if they can fit in when these big players are  not available,” Ikpeme said

—Adebobola Alawode

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