Today may not be the best of time for the members of the home based Super Eagles players presently in camp who are preparing ahead of the all-important 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Lone Star of Liberia. The team's coach, Stephen Keshi is expected to name his final 11-man list of players that will join the 11-foreign based professionals already invited for the match after today's training.
Twenty six home based have been invited to camp ahead of the August 15 friendly against Niger Republic in Niamey which ended goalless and are in camp training morning and night on daily basis and displaying skills in an effort to impress the coach.
Speaking to newsmen at a media parley on who would likely make the list, Keshi said only 11 out of the 26 players in camp and ready to give all will make the trip to Monrovia. He admitted that he is at a dilemma over which to pick and who to leave out as the players according him have shown enough commitment to his rebuilding process. "For sure, I don't know who to pick or not because all of them are good and committed. What I want is who would give me good result."
Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND SPORTS can authoritatively report that the battle for the 11 shirts for the home based players who will make the trip to Monrovia, Liberia come September 9th has been on the high now since all the players invited are in camp with no one wanting to make mistakes. So far, it's going to be a difficult task for the coaches to choose the players that will make up the 11 that will join the 11 foreign professional expected to start arriving the team's training camp from tomorrow Sunday.
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND SPORTS, Rangers of Enugu midfielder, Ugonna Uzochukwu, who is one of the 26 players in camp hoping to Stephen Keshi final list of selection for all important encounters against Liberia, said none of players in the camp is sure of make the list.
He said everybody is training hard and while the coaches are doing their best monitoring every one carefully. "For home based here, nobody is sure of shirt. Everybody is training and working hard. The coaches themselves are doing their best in training.
But for me, I am called upon to come and play, definitely to justify my inclusion in the team in the field of play. Likewise everybody here wants to play and we have all been training perfectly ahead of the game," he said.
Speaking further the Rangers of Enugu defensive midfielder assured Nigerian fans that the Super Eagles will be ready for the Liberia challenge saying the team would not under-rate the Lone Star of Liberia for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations ticket. "No, we have not and will never underrate any team in the qualifiers, but we know that we are better in all departments than Liberia and we will prove it in both legs of the qualifier," he said.
Super Eagles missed out of the last Nations Cup held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea when they lost their group ticket to Guinea. The team's inability to qualify from the group which had Ethiopia, Madagascar and Guinea led to the sack of former coach, Samson Siasia and after a year, Nigeria is looking forward to heading back into the biannual championship with only Liberia now standing on its way to the South Africa 2013 Nations Cup.
Sixteen years ago, Nigeria failed to attend the 1996 Nations Cup in South Africa as result of diplomatic row between Nigerian leader Sani Abacha and South Africa's government. Nigeria was expected to come and defend the African title they won two years earlier in Tunisia especially that the nation was ranked fifth in the world, the highest ranking ever for an African nation.
Liberia reached this stage of the 2013 AFCON qualification process by virtue of a Dioh Williams' goal in the first leg against Namibia, which was the only goal in the two legs from that matchup. For Nigeria, they were held scoreless in Rwanda by their Rwandan counterpart before Ikechukwu Uche and Ahmed Musa each scored in Calabar, Cross Rivers State to qualify the team for this stage.