• Restates demand for home-based players in Eagles
Former international, Tijani Babangida, is sure Super Eagles will beat Leone Stars of Sierra Leone over the two legs of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying series fixed for Benin City today and Freetown on November 17.
Nigeria currently tops group L with six points after two games, while Sierra Leone is at the bottom with just one point. Victories in the two matches will see Nigeria qualifying for the AFCON slated for Cameroun.
Speaking with The Guardian, Babangida warned Coach Gernot Rohr to treat the matches with all seriousness, adding that matches between Nigeria and Sierra Leone are always tough.
“The last game of Coach Jo Bonfere as Super Eagles handler was an away game against Sierra Leone. We lost in Freetown, but we defeated them in the return leg in Port Harcourt. It is always not an easy tie whenever we meet them at home because they are a difficult team to play there.
“The Leone Stars are really not a pushover team, but I don’t know about their current strength. Sometimes, history always hit back at one, but I think come Friday, in Benin, the Super Eagles will beat them,” he said.
Although Babangida is confident in the quality of players invited for the match, he is not happy with the continuous omission of home-based players in the team.
The president of the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) said depriving the local league players from featuring for Eagles would destroy their morale, and also stunt their career growth.
“In the last two friendlies, Rohr didn’t call any of our league players, even when those invited were mostly non-regulars for Super Eagles. Not extending invitations to these players kill our league, and deny the young promising players the opportunity to showcase their talents.”
“And like I have always said, the problem is not Rohr, but the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The NFF has to tell Rohr to listen to the yearnings of the domestic league players for consideration. He must at least reserve three to four positions for our league players when inviting players for international engagement.
“Before I went for the Governor Wike Pre-season tournament in Port Harcourt, many people called to inform me that there are several good players that I should come and see for myself. Here in Port Harcourt there are many scouts from around the world; some I met myself while watching the tournament. There is one going on in Katsina and another one coming soon in Kano. We are supposed to watch these teams so that when we talk, we can say yes, we have watched and seen players good enough for the Eagles. The NFF may not want to take our advice, but they must here us talk about this unfair treatment on the domestic players always,” he stated.