By Patrick Omorodion
With Shaibu Amodu, everybody, Nigerian fans so to speak, knew who will make the Super Eagles team for any competition. At least this was the situation before the January Africa Nations Cup in Angola.
Even though he invited a handful of players, including some of the popular home-based players who were making waves in the domestic league, Amodu announced his team for the Nations Cup before camping for the event began.
When asked, he said he already knew his players, adding that the home-based players were only good as training materials, what in boxing is referred to as â€˜sparing partnersâ€™. Most of the players the Edo-born coach penciled down for the Nations Cup turned out to be the so-called big boys who were nursing one injury or the other.
As if he has learnt from the mistake of his predecessor, Lars Lagerback began by telling Nigerians that every player who wants to don the Nigeria green and white jersey must fight for it and on merit too.
He thus declared that he will throw open the camp for every good Nigerian player to come and prove himself. He assured he will also look into the local league to add some of the good players there.
After a brief tour of Europe and a careful study of tapes of the Super Eagles, the Swede said he has penciled down about 45 players who will be invited to camp to prove their worth once the opens next month, just a month to kick-off.
The shortness of time, 68 days to the kick-off of the Mundial, makes Nigerians worry that Lagerback may not have enough time to sift the team and come out with a solid team that could put up a respectable performance at the World Cup.
Though he has not made public his list, Saturday Vanguard sports attempts here to present a run-down of players the former Sweden coach may have his eyes on and will ask Nigerians who they think among them should make it to the World Cup.
Players available to Lagerback
The list cannot be exhaustive but the Swede has began by saying that there are many Nigerian-born players in Europe and he will try to convince them to play for their fatherland. He particularly mentionedÂ Nedum Onuoha who plays for Premiership side, Manchester United and has layed for Englandâ€™s U-21 side.
Starting from the local players who Lagerback said will be looked into, a few of them could make it despite their crash to Niger Republic in the qualifiers of the African Nations Championships.
From the goalkeepers, are Segun Oluwaniyi of Shooting Stars, Chigozie Agbim, Warri Wolves and Chijioke Ejiogu of Enyimba. Others are Chibuzor Okonkwo of Bayelsa United, Stanley Okoro, Bello Kofarmata, both of Heartland. Uche Agba who recently transfered from Heartland to Esperance of Tunisia is another potential Eagles player.
Isiaka Olawole, Kwara United, Emma Nwachu, Dolphins, ThankGod Amaefule, Sharks, ThankGod Ike, Heartland, John Owoeri, Heartland and Ahmed Kadiri are also Home-based players Lagerback could pick.
From the regular foreign legion are goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama, Dele Aiyenugba, Greg Etafia and Austin Ejide. The Uche brothers, Kalu and Ike, Osaze Odemwingie, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Joseph Yobo, Nwankwo Kanu, Danny Shittu, Dickson Etuhu, Mikel Obi and Seyi Olofinjana.
Also available are Chidi Odiah, Obinna Nwaneri, Elderson Echiejile, Taye Taiwo, Michael Eneramo, Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, Yusuf Ayila, Yusuf Mohammed, Olubayo Adefemi, Sani Kaita, Femi Ajilore, Chris Obodo, Onyekachi Apam and Sam Sodje.
Everton of England forward, Victor Anichebe, the Utaka brothers, John and Peter as well as Chinedu Obasi, Dele Adeleye, Joseph Akpala and Sani Emmanuel who impressed at last yearâ€™s FIFA U-20 World Cup are among those Lagerback may invite to select his final squad.