By Richard Animam
With six days to Nigeriaâ€™s first group match with Argentina in Johannesburg,Â the composition of Lars Lagerbackâ€™sÂ team for the World CupÂ is still raising a lot of dust in the country.
The exclusion ofÂ Real Zaragozaâ€™s Ike Uche and Evertonâ€™sÂ Victor Anichebe and the inclusion of Atlantaâ€™ 96 gold medal winning captain, Nwankwo Kanu in the 23-man list for the 2010 World Cup which kicks off on June 11, has attracted a lot of flaks for Swedeâ€™s Super Eagles manager.
FormerÂ Eagles manager to the Korea/Japan World Cup, Adegboye Onigbinde stylishly washed his hands off the issue, stating that only Lagerback could say why he included Portsmouthâ€™s striker, Kanu in his team to the detriment of two of the countryâ€™s finest players, Uche and Anichebe.
â€œI have always believed that theÂ issue of selection is entirely that of the coach and now Lagerback is that man. And he is the only person who can defend Kanuâ€™s inclusion in the team.Â He knows what he wants to achieve and has gone ahead to select those he believes can help him achieve his set objectives.
I will call on Nigerians to let him to do his job and also let him reap the reward or bear the brunt should he succeed or fail in South Africa,â€ Onigbinde said.
But Port Harcourt based lawyer and former Green Eagles winger, Adokie AmiesimakaÂ towed a different line. He said that as far as he is concerned, Lagerback is a fraud and those who made it possible for him to be there, have a lot to explain to Nigerians.
â€œThey made us believe that he would change the situation of things and bring in more home- based players and also introduce those based in Europe who have not been given the opportunity to play for theirÂ fatherland.
He claimed that he knew our players better and was going to introduce fresh faces. But from the team list released recently, it is obvious the man does not know as much as he claimed.Â I am disappointed with Patrick Ekeji who was bamboozled with Lagerbackâ€™s power point display during the interview and hired him.
As far as I am concerned, Ekeji had a score to settle with Amodu as far back as the 2002 Mali Africa Nations Cup. We have seen Lagerbackâ€™s team and I can tell you that there is no difference in the style or players, compared to Amoduâ€™s team.Â We have spent close to N300m on Lagerback, do you know how many coaches that money would have helped to train and prop up their profiles?
Lagerback himself said he would be playing Kanu for onlyÂ five minutes. Kanu is well known to other players and they are also aware that he is a slow player, one who lacks energy and pace andÂ they also know how to mark him out.Â The inclusion of Kanu in the team shows the lack of knowledge on the part of Lagerbackâ€,Â Adokie said.
The Port Harcourt based lawyer however warned that Nigerians should not expect any dramatic twistÂ from the Eagles in South Africa. â€œI do not see them go beyond the first roundâ€, he affirmed.