Super Eagles will face Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Principé in qualifiers for the AFCON
Across Europe’s major leagues namely the Serie A, Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga, there’s no Nigerian forward or any player at all who managed more goals last season than Taiwo Awoniyi.
The Union Berlin forward scored 15 goals in 31 appearances in the Bundesliga and helped his team to the Europa League for next season.
As Nigeria prepare for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Principe, the list of 27 players selected to play has emerged and the player was a blatant omission from the squad. This beggars belief.
The former Liverpool attacker last featured for the Super Eagles at the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon and didn’t do damage to his stock at the tournament. While he could have had a better tournament, he also proved to be a player that can be called upon when there’s need.
The Super Eagles squad for the games is a rich one, especially in the forward areas but snubbing the top scorer amongst a large group of players will always make eyebrows raised, especially at the expense of players who didn’t have as brilliant seasons.
It’s the beginning of the Jose Peseiro era and the tour to the United States offers greater hope than fears. Some of the struggles faced in the past included not giving worthy players opportunities and that ensured good performers like Anthony Nwakaeme were ignored despite featuring prominently and impressively at his club side.
These are early days and the jury will be out on how Peseiro will reward excellence moving forward.
He stated in an interview that the national team’s doors will be open to all and there’s an expectation of that, as many Nigerians impress in Europe and locally hoping to get a chance to play.
“The national team is open for everybody. Players who play locally, and outside the country. The ones from the academy, it’s open for everyone. But they need to know, that first, they need to have quality. Second, demand and third, passion. If they can have these three points, they can play here,” Peseiro said.
“Of course we have many players, not only eleven, we have twenty, thirty, forty. We have many players to choose from.
“The most important thing is the team, more than players. In this moment, we need to create group spirit and know what’s best for the national team.”