Super Eagles coach, Austin Eguavoen in a media parley with journalists explained his reasons for recalling Ogenyi Onazi almost four years since his last call-up. By every means, the reason didn’t sound like it came from a sporting angle.
The coach further revealed that he’s in contact with retired winger Victor Moses to return to the team, four years after he announced his exit from the international scene. The kitchen is hot, and fans have been boiling.
Those statements hold an unpleasant deja vu to their taste, bitter for most until they taste otherwise.
Onazi has since come out to say his experience is vital for the Super Eagles and said the coach put a call through to him to explain the importance of his presence. Eguavoen in his statement painted the picture of a man whose hands was forced. He said the decision was to “pacify everybody” and ensure there’s harmony in the team.
“Onazi, good player. Whether he’s still good and can play at that level, we don’t know. But that’s why I said to pacify everybody, to ensure there’s harmony here, put him on the standby. While he’s on the standby, I have the final say, ” he said.
Onazi’s inclusion is undeserved and the reactions that have met it are an indication of the general of Nigerian fans. Followers of the Super Eagles hardly reach a consensus over any debate. When it happens, parties must look into the mirror.
Despite being only listed as part of the players on standby, the possibility of having Onazi in the team in any way is a disservice to the many young players impressing with their various clubs.
While where a player plies his trade doesn’t matter to form and quality as the former Lazio midfielder has rightly said, it must be stated that their fitness level and playing time are of utmost importance, and the coach who has extended an invitation isn’t aware of the current state of those.
Just when Onazi’s invitation was taking the unwanted route in, Eguavoen mentioned another recipe he’s building for the team.
Spartak Moscow’s Moses left the team in 2018 at the age of 28, seemingly tired of international football. His club form has since looked decent and his performances in the Europa League this season have been noteworthy. Where Eguavoen’s announcement beats one’s imagination is the reality that the Super Eagles have a rich collection of wingers at the moment.
In Moses Simon, the team has one of Europe’s hottest wingers at the moment and Chidera Ejuke is still an element whose best is yet to be seen in Nigeria’s colours. Samuel Chukwueze on his day is not a player a defender will like to face and these are younger players with decent upsides in their careers, still climbing the ladder of football and whose best may be ahead.
“However I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on club career and my young family as well as to allow the next generation of Super Eagle stars the opportunity to step up and to flourish. We are blessed as a nation to have so many exciting young players coming through and now is their time,” Moses said as he announced his retirement in 2018.
Eguavoen’s desire to recall Moses, unlike Onazi’s isn’t totally shocking, but there’s no moral justification for it. Moses has had great days with the Super Eagles. His run at the 2013 AFCON and the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers stand above and ahead in his time with the team, but times are different.
There’s hardly any footballer that will reject an opportunity to play at the World Cup, especially when they are still actively playing but what difference can Moses add to the current setup?
Eguavoen has shown his tactical weaknesses at the AFCON and is one of the proponents of the popular wing play approach. This may explain his desire to have more wingers on board but the timing of this decision and the fact of the moment ask difficult questions.
A lot of names are coming up, and the ingredients for Eguavoen’s recipe are proving to be not what fans usually subscribe to. The kitchen is hot, and time will tell what Eguavoen is cooking. Hopefully, it’s a piquant stew.