Former International, Abdul Sule, has advised the country’s football governing body, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to ensure that invitations to players are based on merit, following the reports of some players confirming their invitations for the October 9 and 13 friendlies against Cote d’Ivoire and Tunisia in Austria.
Both Sparta Rotterdam and TSV Hartberg goalkeepers, Maduka Okoye and Samson Tijani, were said to have received their invitation for next month’s friendly games despite their inactivity, especially Okoye, who has not kept for his new club since his move from a fourth division club, Fortuna Düsseldorf, in Germany.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Sule, who said he is yet to see the list of players invited for next month’s friendlies, advised against using the national team as a rehabilitation centre, adding that those that should be invited to the Super Eagles’ team should be players who are active in their various clubs for the coach to decides his final choice for the competitive matches.
“I haven’t seen the names of players invited for the friendlies. But the truth is that those that should be invited must be playing regularly. I won’t support those who are suggesting the invitation of home-based players for the games.
“I don’t think this is proper because these home-based have stopped playing for sometime now. So, the focus should be on Europe-base players and that doesn’t mean that playing in Europe is a guarantee that every player must come from there. It is only those who are active that deserve invitations,” he said, adding that he wondered why the technical department was not functioning to checkmate unnecessary invitations to undeserved players.
“At times, some of the players invited to the national team we don’t get to see them in action. It’s not about how big the club you play for, the truth is that there should be someone from the technical department who should watch these players in action in their respective clubs and agrees with the coach before invitations are sent to players for any national assignment.
“If nothing is known about these players who receive invites for our games, then he should not be part of the team. We want to see players who are playing regularly for their clubs to also be part of the national team,” he said.
Sule added: “We don’t want names again. The coach must pick players base on performance; players must merit their invitations just like we had during the time of Clemens Westerhof. These friendlies we are going for are tough games, even though they are friendly matches.
“We also know that from friendly matches, a coach can also know how strong his team is from the players he has in the team, as we look forward to the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup qualifiers. In my own view, I think it’s also important we look inwards by inviting the home-based players to be part of the team once COVID-19 pandemic is over. To be candid, I think it high time we started the game and leave the pandemic behind us,” he stated.