EAGLES’ 42-MAN LIST: Your list is outrageous, NFF tells KeshiTHE Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has ordered the Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, to cut down on the list of 42 players invited preparatory for the World Cup qualification match against Malawi next month.
Keshi had yesterday released a list of 24 home based and 18 foreign based players to prosecute the crucial final match of the first qualification round slated for Calabar, September 7.
According to a statement made available to NationSport yesterday, and signed by the Head Media, Ademola Olajire, the NFF said the focus should primarily be to earn for Nigeria a 2014 FIFA World Cup finals ticket, before the business of full preparation for the 2014 Nations Cup.
And rising from its meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the NFF Technical and Development Committee told Coach Keshi to come up with a 23-man list for the World Cup cracker against the Cranes, instead of the outrageous 42- man list submitted.
Keshi has been told that there would be no elaborate camp for 24 home-based players, earlier scheduled to arrive in Abuja on Sunday, as only five will of them will make the final cut for the match in Calabar.
Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green, explained: “We must be very pragmatic and take it one step at a time. The 2014 FIFA World Cup ticket is very, very important to Nigeria and Nigerians. Yes, we have qualified for the African Nations Championship, for the first time ever, and we very much appreciate it.
“But there are three very crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches that we must prosecute successfully to qualify for Brazil before we can start the build-up to the African Nations Championship.
Keshi is expected to harmonise his list and submit a reviewed document to the NFF before the end of the week.
Meanwhile, Keshi has explained the rationale behind inviting 24 home-based professionals when only five of them will eventually join the 18 overseas-based stars for the big game against Malawi, as well as for the international friendly against the Etalons of Burkina Faso in Kaduna on Tuesday, 10th September. The Big Boss is already planning ahead as he said the exercise will allow him discover more players for next year’s Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) to be staged in South Africa; a place that is fast becoming a good hunting ground for the Eagles’ gaffer.
-We are calling up 24 home boys in order to be able to identify new players for the 2014 African Nations Championship, for which we have already qualified, said Keshi.
The home based Eagles secured a berth in CHAN 2014 after beating their Ivorian counterparts to one of the tickets up for grab.
However, recent developments suggest that some key members of the local squad might become ineligible for the tournament proper as they are close to sealing various deals with some interested foreign club sides.