Vanguard (Lagos)

20 February 2013

Nigeria: Go for More Local Players, Abigor Tells Keshi

GODWIN Abigor is beating his chest over the performance of local players in the just concluded Nations Cup and has said that "Keshi could have used more."

The chairman of Warri Wolves, interestingly the club of Nations Cup hero, Sunday Mba, was one of the few who stood behind Keshi for exposing players from the local league.

Many times he issued statements to the media encouraging Keshi on his confidence on local players and asked him never to change. When Keshi appeared not to fielding local players the way he started, Abigor frowned at it and raised alarm.

And for the Nations Cup, he reminded Keshi that African football was different and that local players would have to be considered, predicting that they would be prominent in the performance of the Eagles.

With Sunday Mba's goals sending out favoured Ivory Coast and beating Burkina Faso in the final and with Godfrey Obaobona remaining a rock in the defence throughout the matches, Abigor's words came to pass. He commented on the Nations Cup victory for the first time yesterday:

"I have been vindicated. I commend Keshi for giving Mba, Godfrey and Ejike Uzoenyi who played for few minutes a chance. However, I think that he could have even used more of them.

I know how good Egwuekwe is and I know how hardworking Gabriel Ruben is. But I understand that they were very sick and couldn't have played.

They played most of the qualifying matches and should get another chance to prove how good they are during the World Cup qualifying matches.

The right thing is to expose many of the good local players and we may not lack top players again. With what we saw of Mba and Obaobona they will likely move to good clubs in Europe unless they don't have good managers.

"They have proved that they are among the best in their positions in Africa and that's just the starting block for them. I know that more will come out from our shores if Keshi continues to field them.

But he should search for more. He should watch our league matches with is assistants. More abound in our league. I think we will experience a new dawn in our football if they continue to expose local players.

Nigerians should remember that many of the foreign-based players disappointed us and made us in the past and the need to look inward arose. Keshi must continue. I urge him to go local the more. There's sense in it."

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