Lagos — Chief Coach of Nigeria's Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has been given a thumb up for taking the bold step to include players from the local league in his team to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Six of the players from Nigeria Premier League, NPL made Nigeria's 23-man list to the Nations Cup, which kicks off this weekend in South Africa.
Rangers of Enugu have three of their players in the list. They are goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, Sunday Mba and strikers Ejike Uzoenyi. Warri Wolves have defender Azubuike Egwuekwe, Sunshine of Akure captain, Godfrey Oboabona and Kano Pillars' defender, Reuben Gabriel.
Former coach of the Flying Eagles, Tunde Disu (OFR) said that Keshi has done the right by giving the home based players a sense of belonging in the senior national team. The former Technical Director of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, noted that it is good that Keshi gave the local players chance to prove themselves at an international competition such as the Africa Cup of Nations.
"I believe that Keshi, who had played at the Nations Cup before knows the standard of the competition, the reason he had to select the players he is taking to South Africa 2013. I think he is on the right path to chart a new course for the Eagles," said Disu, who took Nigeria's U-20 team to Saudi Arabia 1989 FIFA World Youth Championships WYC.
Speaking in the same vein, former player of the defunct Stationery Stores FC of Lagos, Taiwo Oloyede, said that he was not surprised seeing six home based players in Keshi's squad for the Nations Cup.
"I have been monitoring progress of the Eagles since Keshi took over as the coach of the senior national team. I think since day one he has the belief in the local players as the future of our team. To me, these professionals are living on past glories; they cannot play as our local lads are hungry to wear the colours of their national team. I know that Keshi would give chance to more of the local stars when the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup begin," said Oloyede, who was a player of the U-20 team that won silver medal with Disu at the Saudi '89 WYC.
Oloyede, however, charged the home based players to justify their inclusion in the Nations Cup team. "The players that make the team should go to the Nations Cup to prove themselves that they are a force to reckon with. I think this will give Keshi the confidence to call more of the home based stars in future outings", he said.