When Gernot Rohr took over as the head coach of Nigeria’s male national team, he promised to always invite players based on their form and involvement at their respective clubs.
Just last week, he was quoted saying he will call only the fittest players for Nigeria’s games against Seychelles and Egypt.
“We will invite the fittest players in the next games against Seychelles and Egypt and the best ones will play. We will base our invite on what they are doing with their clubs and we know what they did with us and we are not forgetting it,” said the German.
But surprisingly, upon the release of the 23-man squad for the clashes against Seychelles and Egypt, Rohr invited players who hadn’t played for their clubs in while, those who are just returning from injury and others who have been struggling for form while the inform players were left out.
Since this is about the neglected striker, I will leave the table with players who didn’t play for their clubs, returning from injury, and those struggling for form but got the call unshaken and focus on Taiwo Awoniyi’s absence.
Of all the invited strikers, there is none with the goalscoring return of the neglected Liverpool loanee, Taiwo Awoniyi.
I am very happy with the inclusion of Paul Onuachu who will be playing his first game for the Super Eagles, he has been snubbed in the past, his inclusion is well-deserving.
If Rohr is calling the inform players then he has no justification for leaving out Taiwo Awoniyi, a player who has been involved in 50% of his club’s goal tally since he joined the Belgian outfit in January.
Taiwo Awoniyi has scored 6 goals and assisted 2 goals in 7 games since he joined Royal Excel Mouscron in the Belgian top flight league.
If you say his ‘goals are in the farmers league, not a top league’, then, you are not aware that before he joined Royal Excel Mouscron in January, he was with Gent from August 2018 until December 2018 where he played 15 league games in the same league and failed to find the back of net.
What I am saying is Taiwo Awoniyi’s current goal-scoring form isn’t a fluke but a result of hard work and understanding of his strength. Taiwo Awoniyi is that striker we haven’t had in a long while and his addition to the team will surely bring something different to the table.
He is a bully, tall, fast and can play with his feet. There is more to Taiwo Awoniyi than his goals return. He can drift in from the flank, can hold the ball, link up with the attackers perfectly and he can score half chances.
This is his goal vs Standard Liege last Friday
Taiwo Awoniyi (6 goals) – 0.9 goals/mins
Paul Onuachu (14 goals) – 0.7 goals /Min
Victor Osimhen (10 goals) – 0.5 goals/Min
Chuba Akpom (5 goals) – 0.4 goals/Min
The three –time African champions confront Seychelles in a largely –ceremonial session at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Friday, 22nd March, starting from 4pm, and then tackle the Pharaohs of Egypt at the same venue in a prestige international friendly four days later.
If Taiwo Awoniyi cant get a chance to impress in a game against Seychelles when will he get the opportunity to show he is ready for the national team?
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba FC); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany)
Midfielders: Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark)
By: Tope Adefala