Despite calling up three NPFL players in the last international window and handing Enyimba’s Anayo Iwuala a debut, Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr has given the clearest indication yet that the door to the main national team will be closed to home-based players for the World Cup qualifiers.
Enyimba duo Anayo Iwuala and John Noble and Abia Warriors’ Adetunji Adeleke earned call ups to the squad that defeated Benin and Lesotho in the recently concluded 2021 AFCON qualifiers with Iwuala appearing in both games.
While declaring himself pleased with Iwuala’s showing and the quality of Noble and Adeleke in training as Nigeria rounded off their campaign without losing a game, Rohr appeared to nip in the bud, any thoughts the trio could become Super Eagles regulars – saying they must offer further proof of their quality by excelling in the national team reserved for players based in Nigeria.
Speaking about their national team prospects, Rohr described the trio as “very interesting for the CHAN team” – a clear indication further Super Eagles call ups might be long in coming.
The Franco-German stressed the NPFL players only made the Super Eagles team because the “special circumstances” of the coronavirus pandemic created several vacuums with the withdrawals of many regulars including Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu.
The Eagles boss said the NPFL players would have had a hard time making the squad otherwise, adding they must now look to become regulars in the national team reserved for players based in Nigeria.
“Yes, we brought Enyimba players, because I saw them, they’re good players,” Rohr said. “Iwuala could play twice even. In the first match, he came in, I think a lot of people were surprised because he played.”
“Normally we must have a CHAN team. In the CHAN team, playing the best local players. It’s very difficult for them to come in our A team, but now with the special circumstances for travelling restrictions, we had the opportunity to bring in some local players.
“And the two other ones in the training gave us a good impression, so let’s see what can happen.”
Despite Rohr’s new contract stipulating he must incorporate home-based players into the Super Eagles, the former Gabon boss said NPFL players make and impress in the CHAN national team before being considered for the main Eagles team.
“These three players are very interesting for the CHAN team, and I think we’ll have soon, somebody, a coach who will make a CHAN team to prepare the next CHAN AFCON competitions.
“Everybody wants to see the local players, but they have to show something before in the CHAN team. It is very important that we can have this young CHAN team, to see the best ones and then to give them eventually a chance.”