Former Nigeria internationals, Friday Ekpo and Christian Chukwu, have expressed their confidence in the ability of the home-based players invited by Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Chad in June.
The Eagles seek to get back to continental reckoning after their absence at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in the qualifiers for the 2017 edition of the competition beginning next month and Keshi on Thursday released a list of 26 players for the first qualifier against Chad in Kaduna on June 13.
Nigeria is drawn in Group G of the qualifiers along with seven-time champions, Egypt, Tanzania and Chad and as Keshi prepares the team to host Chad, Chukwu believes that the home-based players will do well in the team because they enjoy more playing time.
He said, “The coach is really in charge of the team and he has started well. He has called his players and I believe in the home-based players he called up. The 26 players he invited from the home front are good.”
Although the team is expected to include overseas-based players later in the buildup, Chukwu said the home-based players can prosecute the qualifying matches without them.
“When they get the proper direction, they can take on any team. I support his programme. The overseas-based players can only be there to add experience to the team but if left alone, these players are good for the business.”
For former midfielder, Ekpo, the list is a good one and the players should get their chances when the final list is compiled.
“Their invitation is a good one. For now, Keshi needs to trust the home-based players enough to prosecute matches for the team. This is because they play week-in-week-out than most of the overseas-based players.
“The overseas-based players can come too but they should only be the regular ones who can add experience to the team and are doing well for their clubs. The home-based players are still the solution till we can get it right.”
The Confederation of African Football has picked Nigerien official, Assoumane Gnali, as the centre referee for the match. The game is scheduled for the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna. Nigeria Football Federation officials explained that Gnali, who became an international referee only this year, will be accompanied by three of his countrymen. They are Sadissou Idi as Assistant Referee 1, AbdoulAziz Saley as Assistant Referee 2, and Gomno Daouda as Reserve Referee. CAF has also picked Andy Quamie from Liberia as the Match Commissioner.