The Athletic Daily

Non-inclusion of NPFL players in the national team, who’s to blame?

Non-inclusion of NPFL players in the national team, who’s to blame?

Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of The Athletic NG Daily, it’s day two since the government decided to ease down restrictions in other to let people go out, have a life, bring back what’s left of the economy and see how things will progress. But the one thing they did not put into consideration is that we are Nigerians, we will never learn our lessons and will always behave like a piece of sh*t, running like a headless chicken to banks and other places without putting into consideration what may happen despite the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Some are still of the opinion that the figures are inflated and none of this is real. “Common guys, there is nothing like coronavirus, Buhari is just playing politics with all of us.” There you have it. Welcome to Nigeria.

Moving on to what I have to share with you today. Players in the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL, are making a bold statement to the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, and the handlers of the Super Eagles that they are ready to play their roles in the team if given opportunity.

The topic has become a hot debate in Nigeria, which has also seen the NFF ‘forced’ into including ‘home base’ clause in Rohr’s contract that he must relocate to the country in other to help monitor and nurture talents in the domestic league.

Joining the debate and also throwing his weight behind players in the NPFL is Akwa United defender, Olisa Ndah who has been compared to Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk. I know it is outrageous but if fans who follow the Promise Keepers liken the player to the Dutchman, then, he must be really good.

Ofcourse, he is 22, has represented Flying Eagles, and even captained the team at some point. In an interview with The Athletic NG, Ndah said “We really deserve it, they have to look at our league a bit, we have great players in the league, I believe home-based players can do what the foreign-based players are doing.”

The President of Nigeria Football Coaches Association, Ladan Bosso, recently said that NPFL has abundant talents which can be beneficial to the national team. “I am one of the longest-serving coaches in the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, so I know the abundant talents we have in there,” Bosso said.

I don’t want to bring back what or who brought this debate, but if you are interested, you can read it here.

Rohr in an interview said: “Since I’m here two years and a half, I have invited more than 22 local players and most of them are now abroad.”

He has selected 23 players during his time as the Super Eagles manager, Goalkeepers: Ike Ezenwa, Emmanuel Daniel, Dele Ajiboye, Theophilus Afelokhai. Defenders: Jamiu Alimi, Ikouwem Udo, Stephen Eze, Valentine Ozornwafor, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Ebube Duru, Olamilekan Adeleye. Midfielders: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Afeez Aremu, Alhassan Ibrahim, Effiong Ndifreke. Forwards: Chisom Egbuchulam, Junior Lokosa, Godwin Obaje, Okechukwu Gabriel, Sikiru Olatunbosun, Steven Odey, Mfon Udoh, Sunday Adetunji.

Of the 23 players, 11 have all started: Ezenwa; Anaemena, Eze, Ozornwafor, Utin; Ifeanyi, Aremu, Ibrahim; Lokosa, Udoh, Egbuchulam.

Gernot Rohr has called-up 23 NPFL players during his time as the Super Eagles manager (CREDIT: BRILA)
Gernot Rohr has called-up 23 NPFL players during his time as the Super Eagles manager (CREDIT: BRILA)

But why is Rohr hell-bent on selecting foreign-based players? Late Coach Stephen Keshi selected NPFL players in 2013 and won the AFCON with Sunday Mbah netting the only and winning goal against Burkina Faso in South Africa. The faith the Big Boss had on those players drove them to victory against all odds, so it, therefore, means NPFL players are good after all.

I read a recent interview on ESPN by former Akwa United midfielder, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi who now plays for Mash’al Mubarek in the Uzbekistan Super League, comparing the Uzbekistan league with the NPFL and outlined what is obviously lacking in the domestic league.

“There are programs for only the strikers, programs for only the midfielders, programs for the defenders and the goalkeepers. Every department has their special training programs. It’s all about tactical training, quick feet and even the balls we use here are different.

“There are no facilities in the NPFL, but here there are a lot of facilities and equipment to train with. You improve more with the facilities and equipment than when you have no equipment.

“And it is all natural grass pitch, not artifical.”

Lobi Stars FC Goalkeeper Daniel Atsaka in a recent interview with The Guardian put the blame on the NPFL and organisers of the league for the continued snubbing of players by Rohr.

“I am not happy that domestic players were not invited to the Super Eagles. The NFF should give us a quota of four or five players in the team,” Atsaka told the Guardian.

“People should understand that the inability of the league body to show the NPFL on television for people to see the quality of players in the league is not our fault. The NFF should help us.

“The efforts the domestic players put in week in, week out in the league requires Super Eagles call up.

“Only one domestic goalkeeper, Ezenwa, is in the national team, but the coaches need to invite more domestic players,” he added.

There you have it. The league lack facilities to compete with players plying their trade in Europe or even outside other advanced leagues in Africa. You and I know we have outstanding and remarkable players in the domestic league, who will seize the opportunity if given.

Another thing is exercising patience with these players, you don’t just start criticizing them after just one appearance, even players in Europe do need some time to settle and feel at home, so does our home-based players.

The League Management Company, LMC has a role to play in ensuring clubs put in place facilities that can help players and coaches develop to meet the demands and high standards required by the senior national team.

Right, that is all from me today. Till tomorrow.

Stay at home to stay alive.

****

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Copyright 2020 The Athletic NG. Permission to use this article or any part of it is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.theathletic.com.ng as the source.

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