Sports

NFF targets more home-based players for AFCON qualifiers

With the series of withdrawals by Super Eagles players ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho later this month, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is already looking at the option of inviting more homebased players to the team.

 

It is going to be a case of the stone left behind by the builders now forming the cornerstone as two players from the domestic league have been invited to the team with more expected to follow.

 

The coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, has never hidden his disdain for the player playing back at home as he only listed one goalkeeper, Enyimba’s John Noble, in his initial call up for the games.

 

The withdrawal of other players like Sadiq Umar of Almeria and Kenneth Omeruo, a defender for Leganés, both in Spain has paved the way for the inclusion of Anayo Iwuala and Adeleke Adekunle of Enyimba and Abia Warriors respectively.

 

However, there are strong indications that more home-based players might be given the opportunity to be part of the team as more players are expected to withdraw from the game.

 

It would be recalled that the 40 clubs from Ligue 1 and 2 agreed unanimously to prevent their players from leaving the European Union and the European Economic Area, because of the quarantine period they would have to undergo on their return to France due to fears of COVID-19 transmission overseas.

 

With the French authorities achieving this, other countries like England, Spain and Italy might follow suit leading to the bulk of the players invited for the two games not making the trip to Nigeria.

 

Speaking with our correspondent, a top official said there might be drastic changes to the team as more home-based players are likely to get their invitations during the week.

 

“We don’t really have any say over what is happening at the moment,” the official said, pleading for anonymity.

 

“That’s why we need to have a standby home team because we are in a situation whereby we cannot blame the clubs. “This virus is real and all of us are trying to reduce the number of contacts and transmission especially coming from these European countries.

 

The players are expected to be storming the country from Sunday (today) as they start training for the games.

 

The Super Eagles currently top their group consisting of Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leone and a point in the two games will qualify the team for the next AFCON in Cameroon

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