Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr was in attendance at the Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba on Wednesday evening to see Enugu Rangers win the 2018 Aiteo Cup final title at the expense of Kano Pillars.
The general consensus after the game which was decided by penalty shootouts after it ended 3-3 at regulation time is that there are some home-based stars whom Rhor must have watched that are definitely good for the Eagles.
However Rohr insists that there was no player from both sides that impressed him and therefore deserves no invitation to the Super Eagles.
The home based lads have accused the national team coaches of marginalization but Newslegend.com.ng ‘s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI writing for allnigeriasoccer.com presents five players in the Nigeria Professional Football League who have the requisite talents to be part of the Super Eagles squad to face South Africa next month.
1. Ikouwem Udoh (Enyimba)
The left back position was one played at the 2018 World Cup by Brian Idowu, a right footed player whose recovery rate is unsatisfactory.
No doubt Idowu can be part of the group – but the right back or right wing back roles are where he ought to be deployed NOT left back position where there are far better options – Ikouwem Udoh is a good option.
Elderson Echiejile is fast becoming a forgotten man in the Eagles and the Enyimba man is undoubtedly a great to have in the team, either as a starter or an option from the bench.
2. Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars)
Before raising eyebrows due to Ali’s age, let it be clear that nobody should expect his supposed involvement in the Super Eagles to be long term.
However the quality of the veteran is there for all to see.
This piece is strictly based on players who are good enough to be in the Eagles not necessarily those with few years left on their careers.
He proved his quality at the 2017 WAFU Cup and 2018 CHAN tournament where he scored some breathtaking goals. He also did score against Rangers too.
Ali will eventually bow to the biological clock as he is no spring chicken at 37 years but in terms of cheer talent, experience and leadership, he can offer at least one year service to the national team.
Andrea Pirlo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Luis Figo, etc are either retired or ‘still active’ players who were/are into their 30s and are global superstars of the game.
3. Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba)
Theoohilus Afelokhai deserves a place in the Eagles. He is BETTER than some of the foreign based goalkeepers ever invited to the national team.
Now retired Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has been charged to recommend goalkeepers of Nigerian descent to the coaching crew which is a good idea but Afelokhai going by his exploits in the CAF Confederation Cup should also be in the mix.
Many Nigerian fans keep wondering why such an in form keeper is always shut out of the national team while the man he ensures sits on the club’s bench is the one getting the recognition.
4. Chukwuka Onuwa (MFM)
If you ever watched Etim Esin, Friday Ekpo and Austin Jay Jay Okocha play back in the days and these days have seen Chukwuka Onuwa strut his talents for MFM FC of Lagos then you know that the frequently asked question of who replaces Jay Jay Okocha may be closer to us than we know!
Someone should PLEASE hand DVDs of MFM FC matches in which Onuwa played to Gernot Rohr to see.
The diminutive midfielder is blessed with great passes, ties defenders in knots with his dribbles, have fantastic close ball control and vision reminiscent of the duo of Etim Esin and Jay Jay.
Onuwa is a bit of these evergreen midfield maestros.
Height advantage is not on his side but his technical qualities are surely going to be an invaluable asset to the national team at least be an option from the bench.
5. Mfon Udoh (Enyimba)
Udoh will be a threat to the opposition through dead ball situations if invited to be part of the Super Eagles.
The forward’s freekick specialisation is awesome and the current Eagles side with all the foreign based stars do not have a specialist freekick taker whom you can count on to convert at least two out of five to seven chances.
Udoh’s freekick it was that won Enyimba their quarterfinals second leg match against CARA.
Before the goal came eventually, he went close with his other strikes coming off the crossbar.
Enough said, Udoh’s freekick wizardry should be explored and a few more goals can be guaranteed for the Super Eagles – and in the big games too not just friendlies against the likes of Uganda or Liberia.