The Super Eagles have been a source of pride to Nigeria as a whole, not just to football lovers, but also to those who do not see much relevance in sports. Across generations, the Super Eagles have had 3 AFCON titles to their credit. Players like Emmanuel Amuneke, Jay-Jay Okochoa, Kanu Nwankwo, and Vincent Eyeama have made the national team proud. Each player, in their time, set marks in the sand of time. There was a time in history where the majority of players in the Eagle’s squad were home-based. With mass movement of players abroad, we enjoyed the luxury of exposure and this was advantageous to the team, to a point where we began to experience deficiency in squad depth. Right now, the passion or passive nature of some players has to be questioned.
SO FAR GONE?
The class of players in the Super Eagles can be categorized as
- Home based: Rarely in existence
- Foreign based: The homegrown who went abroad for greener pastures or those who switched nationality.
The debate as to if it is okay to have a Super Eagle team of no home based players has been drawn with little or no conclusion. Or better put – to no effect. For example, in the picture above, none of the players ply their trade in Nigeria and the advantage to this is not without a disadvantage.
The advantage is that, if merit based is applied in call up, we will have a formidable hybrid team with abundance of talent. The disadvantage being that a merit based system is subjective, and even though sometimes when some local players earn the right of a call-up, they don’t get called up or end up as unused substitutes.
The biggest allegiance issue that hit the news wave is that of Bukayo Saka and most recently-Ademola Lookman. While the latter was a successful last longing tussle, the same cannot be said of the earlier.
The rapid switch in nationality trend can be traced to the recent likes of Shola Ameobi, Victor Moses, Sone Aluko and a host of others, while some struggle to leave a mark,others made remarkable contributions to the team.
In retrospect, the appearance of some players comes after they fail to get a call up to the country of first choice. After which they begin to consider Nigeria in the tail end of their careers. Not that they need to be punished for their preference, but there is a need to ensure that the Super Eagles is no dumping spot for rejected players. The pride to be on the green and white jersey should be the highlight of any foreign based player addition.
This doesn’t imply we should put an end to this trend, but to ensure that any player switching allegiance at the very least, possess qualities, and is better than those in current squad or possess some form of qualities required to boost the squad. This is done while developing the home based professional athletes to be at par in representing the country. That said, the Super Eagles showed glimpses of hope at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations. One would hope they build on that with the newly appointed Head coach-Emmanuel Amunike.