25th September, 2012
Stephen Keshi, the Head Coach of the Super Eagles, on Tuesday bowed to pressure from Nigerians by inviting Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi to the squad.
Mikel’s name is in the list of 23 home and 11 foreign-based players released on Tuesday by the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA).
The only new invitees are home-based players Ezekiel Bassey of Lobi Stars FC of Markurdi and Anthony Okpotu, who plays for Sharks FC of Port Harcourt.
After defending the list of invited players with the Technical Committee, Keshi told sportswriters in Abuja that Mikel’s invitation was based on his desire to play for Nigeria.
“Nobody told me to invite anybody, neither was I given instruction or mandate by anybody,’’ Keshi stressed.
“Mikel and I talk all the time; the last time we spoke was three days ago and he is ready to play for his country.
“We hope that he will bring his best to the nation.’’
The Super Eagles handler pointed out that the inclusion of Mikel in the squad did not mean that something was lacking in the Eagles midfield as suggested in some quarters.
“It is our desire to give every Nigerian the opportunity to show his worth.
“He is just like one Chibuike in Rosenborg, I spoke with him. There will be a time when he will play and when that time comes, he will be here,” Keshi added.
“The Big Boss” as Keshi is fondly called, however, noted that the Eagles needed concentration and discipline to beat the Lone Star on Oct. 13 in Calabar.
He further said that the Eagles would not be intimidated by the inclusion of 11 foreign-based players in the Liberian squad.
“Liberia can camp in Ghana or anywhere they like. What is necessary at this point is that the Eagles know what they want and they are cooperating with their coaches to achieve victory.
“We need to plan well and manage ourselves to ensure Liberia does not snatch the Nations Cup ticket from us,” he said.
The Lone Star were made up of 80 per cent local players when the Eagles played them in the first leg, final round of the Nation Cup qualifier a fortnight ago in Monrovia. The match ended 2-2.