NFF technical director Augustine Eguavoen has rejected criticisms directed at his list of players for Nigeria’s friendly with Mexico next month and explained the process used in selecting the 25 NPFL players.
Eguavoen will take charge of the team for the 4 July encounter with Gold Cup champions Mexico at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
With most of the Super Eagles foreign regulars set to begin pre-season training with their respective clubs at the time of the friendly, the NFF opted for a squad of home-based players for the friendly with most of the players likely to form the core of the next CHAN Eagles squad.
However, not everyone was pleased with the eventual list and Eguavoen has come in for criticism for overlooking certain players and selecting others out of position.
But the former Super Eagles captain rejects the criticisms, insisting his selections were based on a meticulous process with considerable input from his assistant Paul Aigbogun and many leading league managers.
Eguavoen who has also managed in the NPFL as has Aigbogun said other factors including visa procurement requirements also impacted his selections.
The former national team acknowledged that a limited list meant many good players would be overlooked but assured the overlooked players there’ll be plenty more opportunities to represent Nigeria in the future.
“It was a bit difficult [drawing up a list], Eguavoen said following the team’s first training session on Monday. “Information came a little bit late, even at that, it’s our country. I’ve been to a few league games, the NPFL of course, the NNL and even the NLO, I pencilled down a lot of players, and I had to also rely on information I had from coaches in the league.”
“It wasn’t that easy, I’ve seen a lot of criticisms in the pages of the newspapers, electronic media as well, but it’s okay. The only thing is that people have to do their research first before they speak. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, it’s not a problem.
“Like I said before, Coach Paul [Aigbogun] saw some games in the league, I saw some games in the continent and the league as well, and I relied on a lot of my colleagues that are also in the league, I’m going to mention names. When you give me a player from Enyimba, I ask Stanley Eguma, I ask [Ladan] Bosso, I ask [Rangers coach] Salisu [Yusuf], I ask [Plateau United Coach Abdu Maikaba].
“So, if three out of all these speak well of the player, it’s okay. When you give me a player from Plateau, I deviate from Maikaba and I ask other coaches. And they always say positive things about these players, so I just felt that was the right way to go about this.
“Everybody can’t come here at the same time, my apologies. One player that is not here that I already feel a bit worried about is [Enyimba forward] Cyril Olisema, he was my player in Gombe, I know him very well in and out. But in this position, we have a lot of players. But this is only game one, other games will come. I might not be the next coach, but this is actually the Eagles because the other guys are busy now.
“The CHAN competition will come, and everybody will have equal opportunities. But if we have left some players out this time, they shouldn’t feel so bad, and before people do or say something, they should do their research.
“Olorunleke for example, his passport is not there but he didn’t tell us on time, and people are talking about him not being included. He is on the list, Olisema is on the list. A whole lot of players are on the list, we submitted about 35 names, but we have to cut it down because of the process of getting visas.
“The American Embassy wanted a certain number of players to be submitted at a certain date. So it was a bit difficult. But however, we have got there, there are still more games that will come, and everybody will have his opportunity.”