Editorial: Super Eagles Squad Is Inexperienced

Published: January 18, 2013
Editorial: Super Eagles Squad Is InexperiencedIvory Coast is widely expected to win the African Cup of Nations tournament this year. This is really one of the strongest teams on the continent. But it's just the same as last year. They were lacking luck then. How about today? Their team is really impressive. In my opinion Ghana and Nigeria can cause them trouble.

First of all there aren't any minnows in African football any longer. You can see it watching the results of the qualifying games. Teams tipped as the favorites were eliminated or had problems surprisingly. There will be no Egypt, no Cameroon or Senegal this year. It all causes less interest from the fans and not only them. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the whole continent was much more interested in the tournament. TV stations wanted to show all the games. It isn't like that this year.

 There will be six players from the domestic league in Nigeria squad. Among this group, three of them play for Enugu Rangers, the vice-champions. Usually in Nigeria when we go to a tournament, we expect much from our team: no matter if it's Super Eagles, Flying Eagles or Golden Eaglets. There is a huge pressure and high expectations to bring home a trophy. This year it's different. In all honesty, no one is expecting Stephen Keshi to win the cup.

Just take a look at the squad. There are so many inexperienced players here. Peter Odemwingie, Obafemi Martins or Kalu Uche haven't been called. You know Uche well in Poland as he played for Wiså‚a Kraków. I can't understand why he isn't in the squad. He has been doing so well in Kasimpasa Istanbul this season.

Odemwingie's case is different. Much has been written on his conflict with Keshi. The truth is that Peter played poorly in the qualifiers. Last year in February against Rwanda (0:0) he was simply horrible, like the whole team did. But when he was substituted in the second half, he shouted at Keshi. Besides, he had disciplinary problems playing for Shuaibu Amodu and Samson Siasia earlier. If he still made it to the team, it could influence the team negatively.

I don't think that names of the players called up for this tournament  impress anybody. I wouldn't expect from any of the young Nigerians to be a star of the tournament, even if Ahmed Musa of CSKA Moscow always does well in the tournaments. We don't have players like Jay Jay Okocha or Sunday Oliseh now. They could make the difference at any time. Take a look at the number of international caps some of our players have. I don't mean Joseph Yobo, Vincent Enyeama or Ikechukwu Uche, but most of the players have not played 15 times for Nigeria yet. If a club from  the English Premier League would like to sign them, it simply wouldn't as they don't fulfill the requirement of percentage of games played for the national team. Experience is indispensable.

However, Keshi's team can surprise all of us. There were some times in the history of Nigerian football that Super Eagles won medals when hardly anyone had counted on them. In 1990 we lost 1-5 against Algeria in the opening game just to beat Egipt and Cote d'Ivoire 1-0 each and go to the final after a 2-0 win against Zambia.


-This article was first published by Polish sports daily Przeglad Sportowy

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