By John EGBOKHAN
With about two weeks to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Liberia, anxiety has become the lot of most of the invited players on the provisional list released by Coach Stephen Keshi for the crunch game in Calabar.
Keshi on Tuesday, invited 23 home-based and 15 foreign-based players for the October 13 return leg match at the U.J Esuene,stadium but the list would be whittled down to about 21 in the coming days, leading to much panic by the players on who amongst them would make the final cut.
With the likes of Champions League winner, John Obi Mikel of Chelsea, Ahmed Musa and Joel Obi making a return to the Eagles, the stakes are indeed high in the Bolton White Camp of the Eagles as Keshi has gone for a larger contingent of foreign-based players than previously and he said this is to ensure that Nigeria qualify for tournament holding in South Africa.
”I increased the foreign-based players because we need all our best legs for the final game,” said Keshi. But his decision is causing panic amidst the home-based stars, who fear that there place in the Eagles is not guaranteed.
A camp source told Sports Vanguard that it would be difficult for Keshi to pick good home-based players for the Liberian match because of the high number of foreign-based teams invited.
“There is going to be panic in the Eagles camp when the home-based players return to Abuja on Sunday because they know that the coach has stated his position on why he invited 15 foreign pros. This has put the chances of the home-based making the final squad very slim”, he said.
He predicted that the competition in camp would be very high, because the players would be anxious and desperate to prove their worth, which can be counter-productive for the team.
“A situation where you have invited 23 home-based to camp creates an unhealthy environment for the team’s cause. I just hope that this anxiety by the players won’t create problems for us in the end”, he said.