Benched players in international teams should not play for Nigeria in AFCON 2023 – Omokaro

Criticism of Super Eagles’ Roster Choices

Bright Omokaro, a former Nigerian international player, has expressed dissatisfaction with the Super Eagles’ current team selection for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

He believes that the prestigious game of representing Nigeria has become an “all-comers’ affair,” with players who are often on the bench in foreign teams donning the green and white.

Comparison with Past Selection Criteria

Omokaro notes a stark contrast between the current selection process and that of his playing days in the 1970s. Back then, earning a spot on the Super Eagles was a challenging feat.

However, it now seems that fringe players from foreign leagues are selected with relative ease, regardless of their standing in their clubs. This trend, he feels, is diminishing the value and prestige of the Nigerian jersey.

Concerns Over Current Selection Process

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Omokaro expressed his disappointment, stating, “It is sad that we have a handful of players who are not first-choice players in their respective teams, and they are representing Nigeria at the Nations Cup; this is very unfortunate.”

He added that these days, simply playing for any foreign club, even a third-tier division, seems to be the easiest route to the Super Eagles.

Call for Greater Emphasis on Homegrown Talent

Omokaro also highlighted the dedication and effort his generation had to put in to secure a place in the national team.

He drew a comparison between the current situation and his own time, stating, “In my days, the likes of John Fasanu knew they had to go through the extra mile and work extra hard to get into the Super Eagles squad. If you donned the Nigerian jersey, you had obviously proven yourself to be worthy.”

Moreover, Omokaro voiced his concerns about the seemingly overlooked pool of domestic talent.

He suggested, “I thought we’ve gotten past this. I don’t know if it’s possible for it to be law in Nigeria that every team should have at least 40 per cent of home-based players. By so doing, we’re consciously developing our football. I know times have changed, but if it worked for our football then, we should consider it.”

Looking Forward to AFCON

Despite Omokaro’s critical assessment, the three-time AFCON champion Super Eagles are aiming to clinch the championship once again this year.

However, his comments raise questions about the team’s selection process and how it might impact their performance in the continental championship.

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