Following the decision of Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro to snub the team’s Vice-captain Williams Troost-Ekong for a second straight International window since September, SportsRation provides possible reasons with information from credible sources.
IS WILLIAMS TROOST EKONG AVAILABLE FOR NATIONAL TEAM SELECTION
Yes! the 30-year old defender is very active at Greek Club PAOK whom he joined from Watford FC in the summer.
The Super Eagles vice-captain was listed for PAOK in a 2-1 win over Panatilikos on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
Since he made his debut in 2015, the defenders comittment to national team duty has been excellent.
REVEALED: A RIFT BETWEEN PESEIRO AND EKONG DURING THE GAME VS SAO TOME IN SEPTEMBER
According to credible sources privy to happenings at the Super Eagles camp, there was a rift between the teams head coach and vice-captain Williams Troost-Ekong after the 6-0 spanking of Sao Tome and Principe in their last 2023 AFCON qualification game in September.
Ekong is said to have confronted Peseiro with questions regarding substitutions in the match.
The defender was not comfortable with the decision to send on right-back Tyrone Ebuehi instead of a first-cap for Gent defender Jordan Torunarigha.
At the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo venue for the game, Ekong was seen signalling to the bench while warming up behind the post for the then uncapped duo Raphael Onyedika and Jordan Torunarigha to get their International bow as the Eagles criused in the dead rubber game.
Peseiro instead sent on Tyrone Ebuehi before handing Midtylland midfielder Raphael Onyedika his first Super Eagles cap.
Torunarigha was not introduced and only got his chance in the October International window – he too has been omitted from the latest squad.
At the post-match interview, journalists too raised question about the decision to delay the Gent defenders debut, especially with the game long-won and with no tactical bearing to the introduction of already capped Ebuehi.
At the teams camp, Ekong and Peseiro held talks over choices which also included himself as he watched from the bench with Calvin Bassey and Semi Ajayi preferred in central defence.
Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro, SportsRation gathered was already critical about Ekong’s ability to adapt to his system of having the team build play from the back.
That coupled with the conversations from the Sao Tome and Principe game has contributed to William Troost-Ekongs abscence from the last two international windows.
Both player and coach have not spoken about this situation yet but this questions will hopefully shift from social media talks to the pre and post match press conferences as the Eagles converge in Ekong’s home-state, Akwa Ibom for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier vs Lesotho.
LEADERSHIP IN THE EAGLES TEAM AHEAD OF THE AFCON
With current skipper of the Nigeria national team, out due to his inactivity at club level, there is need for an experienced leadership back-up ahead of the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast.
Heading to the AFCON without the top-two most influential players in the team will be a risk for the Super Eagles.
Every team needs that voice who will rally the players in critical moments, and so that situation alongside the goalkeeping worries must be sorted before the Eagles fly to Ivory Coast in search of a fourth AFCON title.