Critical comments are trailing Nigeria’s friendly against Liberia on Tuesday, as pundits and fans have questioned why the country’s soccer governing body allowed several foreign-based players line out in what turned out to be a mere exhibition game.
With Liberia’s 51-year-old soccer star turned president, George OpongWeah captaining the Lone Star for the game, in which he started alongside another retired star, James Debbah, overseers wonder why Nigeria’s array of ex-internationals did not play instead.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is now under flak from various quarters, with several of the country’s football followers observing that it was a ‘novelty’ game meant for home-based players, if not strictly for ex-internationals.
Dramatically, Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr was not on the same wavelength, as he preferred sticking with his array of ‘second string’ Euro-based lads.
Only Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who has been a regular in the main squad despite being home-based with Enyimba of Aba, carried the banner of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) from the start.
Apart from Ezenwa, the only other NPFL players hurriedly invited for the game who got tangible minutes were Ebube Duru and Adeleye Olamilekan, as they went on midway through the second half, but MfonUdoh and Sunday Adetunji only had cameo roles.
Adding his view to the issue, esteemed analyst and former Eagles’ media officer, Collin Udoh stated partly in his column: “The NFF owe Nigerians an apology for making the Super Eagles play this game against two players around the 50-mark.
“It is intensely disrespectful for the senior national team to play a novelty game. It is not clear what the NFF knew, or when they knew about Liberia President George Weah and his 48-year-old former teammate James Debbah lining up against the Super Eagles.
“The team should be treated with more respect. Full disclosure should have been sought and obtained from Liberia ahead of signing the contract to play this game. The fact that most of the top players were allowed to leave does suggest they had some idea.”