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Drop Kanu, Shittu

•Taribo, Arisa, Amuneke react to Lagerback’s list

By Tony Ubani &Jacob Ajom
LARS Lagerback’s 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup in South Africa came under scrutiny yesterday by Nigerians, some of who hailed the list, while others outrightly condemned the list.

CRUNCHY . . . Nigeria’s Danny Shittu, right, is tackled by Mali’s Drissa Diakite, during their Africa Cup of Nations Group B soccer match in Sekondi, Ghana, in 2008. Shittu is among Lars Lagerback’s 30-man provisional squad.

Ex-international, Chike Arisa, called from Holland yesterday and bombarded us with questions on the list. “What is Kanu Nwankwo, Daniel Shittu, Joseph Yobo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, John Utaka doing in the list? Some of these players have passed their prime and it reflected on the number of games they played for their clubs.

Look at Shittu for instance, he never played a single game for Bolton. What then are the criteria for choosing him? There is no difference between his list and what Amodu Shaibu offered Nigerians. Annoyingly, too, Lagerback selected the list blindly without seeing the players in action for once.

That’s bad. And it can only happen in Nigeria. How do you invite players you have never seen play? It is obvious that they have compromised him”. Arisa expressed concern over the number of players who are just recovering from injuries.

“I saw Mikel Obi limping, Kalu Uche is coming off injury, Yobo is not 100 % fit, Shittu never played for Bolton, Kanu was not a regular and John Utaka played a handful of matches. God help Nigeria”, Arisa who played for then Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri and the Green Eagles said on our hotline.

Also, former strongman of the Eagles defence, Taribo West, was up in gloves against Lagerback’s list and prayed that it would not tear the Eagles apart.

Taribo took exceptions to the inclusion of Eagles’skipper, Nwankwo Kanu on the list.
“I don’t know why Kanu is on the list, except they want to make him a figure head. They just want him to be in the team because I believe there are other younger guys who are ready to play for this country.

If you ask me, I think Kanu’s presence will be worthless in South Africa. Kanu was not a regular in his club in the just ended Premier League. Anyway, I wish them well.”

Taribo said that the World Cup demanded good preparations and proper planning. “The World Cup is a phenomenal show. The ambience in the stadium and everything about it demand one with strong mental and physical abilities. It is a competition you must be prepared for.”

Also speaking on the list, former international, Emmanuel Amuneke, said the  coach had no choice than to depend on the players he knew could give the country a good representation in South Africa.

“In life one can never be satisfied with everything. Only the coach can determine who he wants in the World Cup. Remember he is under pressure to meet FIFA’s deadline, so he had to trim the number even before they camp in London,” Amuneke said.

“My only worry now is the preparation because they are going to meet the best in the world. But they still have at least three weeks to prepare. I just hope the coach would be able to mould a good team but we should not expect too much from them”, Amuneke said.

Chairman of Technical Committee of the NFA, Taiwo Ogunjobi, however, defended the list, saying that Lagerback made the list based on the players performance in the last Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers. “This is his list.

There is no external influence. Whoever is on it is based on merit. I think we should support him and give them a chance. It is too early. Let’s support our team and wish them well”, Ogunjobi said.


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