Thursday Nov 05, 2020. 14:00
Tijani Babangida, the president of the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF), has criticised Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr for again snubbing locally-based players in his latest selection.
Rohr has generally opted against including many players based in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) and he continued that trend with his selection for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double header against Sierra Leone.
Nigeria’s 24-man squad is made up of 22 based in Europe, South African-based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and the unattached Ahmed Musa, who recently left Saudi club Al Nassr.
Even Heartland FC ‘keeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who has been a regular in the squad if not the starting XI, was ignored by Rohr.
“They should not boycott because we are already talking about those issues, it’s a very bad idea, and NFF have to sit and discuss those issues that even if three or four chances are given, even if they are not playing but can be on the bench and with the team,” Babangida is quoted by All Nigeria Soccer.
“Stephen Keshi was doing that, all the other coaches were doing that. Ezenwa, only him, the goalkeeper was always there, now he was dropped.
“He wasn’t even playing in the team but they still dropped him so I think the NFF must discuss that policy with the technical adviser [Rohr] and try to see that local players also get involved and feel they are also part of the game because I don’t see that in any country where you are using only professionals without giving chance to the local league. That must stop.”
Rohr previously argued that his best players are based overseas, but Babangida argues that calling up NPFL players puts them in the shop window for overseas moves and ultimately helps them improve.
“How about other players that you don’t even use, you bring them and put on the bench,” said the former Ajax winger. “You can invite players to the camp and they feel the vibe of the camp so that they will be able to pick it up.
“It doesn’t matter they have to play, if they play it is good for the league, but put one or two players on the bench because there are other players that are not even playing.
“If you are giving 23 players a chance to come into the camp – two cannot hurt you and cannot kill you so that two supposed to be awarded to the local league.”