In a move that has divided the fan base in half, Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro named captain Ahmed Musa and his vice, William Troost-Ekong, in Nigeria’s final 25-man squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
While a section of Nigerian fans question the inclusion of Musa and Troost-Ekong, another group of supporters highlight that the duo brings invaluable experience and leadership to the squad.
It is hard not to agree with the second school of thought, though.
Despite concerns that Musa and Troost-Ekong may spend more time on the bench than on the pitch due to their perceived age, their track record speaks volumes.
Both players were crucial in the Super Eagles’ journey to the 2019 and 2021 AFCON tournaments, with Troost-Ekong even notching two goals in the competition.
The omission of in-form attackers like Terem Moffi, Cyriel Dessers, and Paul Onuachu has raised eyebrows, but Musa’s captaincy suggests a strategic decision based on experience and composure.
The decision to leave out promising defenders Jordan Torunarigha and Kevin Akpoguma, who were eying their debut at the AFCON, indicates coach Peseiro’s trust in Troost-Ekong’s defensive competence.
Critics argue that the duo’s age may hinder their performance, but Peseiro’s decision may be rooted in the Super Eagles’ recent struggles without Musa and Troost-Ekong.
Without these seasoned players, the Super Eagles seemed to lack direction, drawing both World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe and winning only one of their last four games.
Musa, a key figure in Nigeria’s 2013 AFCON triumph, and Troost-Ekong, a consistent performer with an AFCON bronze medal under his belt, bring not only experience but a winning mentality to the squad.
Their absence in recent international engagements highlighted the void in leadership, and Peseiro is determined not to repeat that mistake in AFCON.
The decision to include Musa and Troost-Ekong might be unpopular, but it underscores the coach’s belief in their continued contribution.
The AFCON journey is not just about talent and big-name players; it demands resilience, experience, and a winning mentality – qualities these two seasoned players undeniably possess.
In a tournament where mental strength is as crucial as physical abilities, Peseiro’s move to entrust Musa and Troost-Ekong with leadership roles might just be the catalyst the Super Eagles need for a successful AFCON campaign.