Bright Omokaro, ex-Nigerian international, says representing Nigeria in the Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) has now become all-comers’ affair, where benched players in their foreign clubs are making the Super Eagles team.
He said this was unlike his playing days in the 1970s when it was tough to don the Nigerian jersey.
Omokaro said this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday, when asked to assess the Super Eagles’ level of preparedness ahead of Saturday’s Côte D’Ivoire tournament, which is scheduled to last till Feb. 11.
According to him, “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. The easiest way to get into the Super Eagles these days is to just play for any foreign club, it could be a third-tier division, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re regarded as a foreign player.
“In my days the likes of John Fasanu know they have to go through the extra mile and work extra hard to get into the Super Eagles squad. If you don the Nigerian jersey, you have obviously proven yourself to be worthy,” he said.
Omokaro, a dreadful defender in his playing days, said the exclusion of home-based players was disturbing.
“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 percent 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,” he said.
Super Eagles, three-time champions of the tournament: 1980, 1994, and 2013, hope to win the trophy for the fourth time when the tournament kicks off on Saturday