The Nigerian Super Eagles coach Shauibu Amodu has announced his team list for the African Cup of Nations in Angola ahead of the national team’s pre-Nations Cup camping exercise, scheduled to start on December 29 in Durban, South Africa.
The three home-based players in the team, Bassey Akpan, a goalkeeper with Bayelsa United, and the Heartland duo of Bartholomew Ibenegbu, a midfielder, and defender Chibuzor Okonkwo, who was a key member of the Nigerian team to the Beijing 2008 Olympics, are expected to fight for places in the final 23-man list for the Nations Cup alongside 29 overseas based players for the CAN 2010 slot.
However, former Super Eagles player, Emmanuel Amuneke is of the opinion that more players from the Nigerian league ought to have been given a chance to fight for a place in the team by Amodu.
“It’s nice to see that some players from the local league were called up,” begins Amuneke, the 1994 African Player of the Year, “but three players is a small amount when one considers the number of talented players in the country,” added the coach of Premier League side Ocean Boys.
Another former Super Eagles player, Benedict Iroha, like Amuneke, lamented the few number of home-based players called up by Amodu for the camping exercise.
He is, however, delighted with the quality of home-based players called up by the Super Eagles handler, in particular Ibenegbu, who played an integral role in the Owerri side’s second place finish in this season’s CAF Champions League.
“I don’t think it’s fair that only three home-based players were invited to camp for the Nations Cup but I think the coach has his reasons,” said Iroha, an assistant coach at Heartland.
“I would have preferred as many as six home-based players but the inclusion of Ibenegbu is justifiable because he is in my opinion the best creative midfielder in the league.”
Since the 2006 exit of Austin Okocha from the Super Eagles, there has not been any player capable of occupying the creative midfield position but Iroha feels all that could be consigned to history especially if Amodu gives Ibenegbu a chance in camp.
“Everyone has been complaining that we have not been able to find a successor for Okocha but that is a role that Ibenegbu can perform if only the coach can give him a chance,” added Iroha.