Head coach of home-based Super Eagles, Salisu Yusuf, says he intends to use the West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup as a platform to prepare for the 2019 Championship for African Nations (CHAN).
On Wednesday, Yusuf named an 18-man squad to represent Nigeria at the regional football tournament which kicks off in Ghana this weekend.
The core of the team is made up of players who represented the country in last month’s CHAN qualifiers against Benin Republic – with Nigeria winning 2-1 on aggregate over two legs to qualify for the biennial championship.
“The WAFU would help us perfect our team for CHAN,” Yusuf told busybuddiesng.com.
Nigeria’s record in CHAN is one that needs much improvement as the West African nation failed to qualify for the first two editions of the competition, before finishing third in 2014 and getting eliminated at the group stage in 2016.
With the next edition billed for January 2018, The WAFU Cup comes at, perhaps, the best time for the most populous black nation on earth, and Yusuf has a chance to take a close look at players he could take to CHAN.
“I still believe that one or two players would still come after the WAFU [cup] for that team,” Yusuf said. “My believe is the people we called now would give the team more strength in attack because we called players that have been doing very well in their teams.
“We changed some players because they couldn’t perform what we expected them to perform, so we had to give other players an opportunity to play,” the coach said.
Nigeria will playoff against Sierra Leone in the first round of the tournament, afterwhich eight teams will emerge for a group phase competition. The tournament takes place from the 9th – 24th of September.