The decision of Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr to invite Enyimba winger, Anayo Iwuala to the Super Eagles camp for their AFCON 2021 qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho has seen the number of home-based players invited for the games increase to 3.
This season of the NPFL has had an uninterrupted calendar so far, with 16 rounds of matches already completed since the league resumed in December 2020, and this has seen players rise to prominence and get noticed by the national team selectors. The number of NPFL players invited to the Super Eagles camp may increase over the coming days as clubs around Europe are skeptical about releasing their players to travel halfway across the world while a pandemic is still ongoing, hence the withdrawal of the likes of Moses Simon, Sadiq Umar and Kenneth Omeruo from the squad.
This may be a great chance for the home-based players to stake their claim and fight for the opportunity to don the shirt of the Super Eagles over the course of two important matches. Sadiq Umar’s replacement, Anayo Iwuala plays for Enyimba and has distinguished himself as one of the best wingers in the league with his direct running and ability to change directions quickly. Iwuala has the ability to cut in and shoot with his right foot, and can also drive outside the defender towards the byline with his pace and close control. He has been a mainstay in the Enyimba team this season. Kenneth Omeruo was replaced by Abia Warriors defender, Adeleke Adekunle who has been a rock in the defence of the Umuahia Landlords in the league this season. Adeleke has the ability to play out pinpoint passes from his position at the centre of defence, and can tackle one on one as well as read the game well. He has been named in the team of the week this season on a number of occasions for his sterling displays for the Umuahia Landlords. Enyimba goalkeeper, John Noble was in the original 24-man list after his heroics for Enyimba propelled him from being a third-choice keeper to being first-choice, and he has kept the number one shirt at Enyimba for himself. Something of a journeyman, Noble seems to have found himself a home after joining Enyimba in the off-season.
The NPFL has loads of players in every position who are capable of stepping up if need be, with the likes of Tosin Omoyele, Olisa Ndah, Auwalu Ali Malam, Fatai Abdullahi and many others just waiting in the wings for their turn to don the green white green shirt of the Super Eagles. This international break may further open coach Rohr’s eyes to this fact.