Nigeria’s top scorer in European major leagues snubbed for AFCON qualifiers
The Super Eagles will face Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Príncipe in AFCON qualifiers
In major European leagues namely Serie A, Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga, no Nigerian striker or player scored more goals last season than Taiwo Awoniyi.
The Union Berlin striker has scored 15 goals in 31 Bundesliga appearances and helped his side qualify for the Europa League for next season.
As Nigeria prepare for the AFCON 2023 qualifiers against Sierra Leone and São Tomé and Príncipe, the list of 27 players selected to play has emerged and the player was a glaring omission from the squad. It is beyond comprehension.
The former Liverpool striker last played for the Super Eagles at AFCON 2021 in Cameroon and didn’t damage his stock in the tournament. While he could have had a better tournament, he has also proven to be a player who can be called upon when needed.
The Super Eagles squad for games is rich, especially in the frontcourts, but snubbing the top scorer among a large group of players will always raise eyebrows, especially at the expense of players who haven’t had such stellar seasons.
It’s the start of the Jose Peseiro era and the US tour offers more hope than fear. Some of the difficulties faced in the past included not giving opportunities to worthy players and this ensured that good performers like Anthony Nwakaeme were passed over despite featuring prominently and impressively in the side of his club.
These are the first days and the judging panel will determine how Peseiro will reward excellence going forward.
He said in an interview that the doors of the national team will be open to everyone and that is expected as many Nigerians are impressing in Europe and locally in hopes of getting a chance to play.
“The national team is open to everyone. Players who play locally and outside the country. Those of the academy, it’s open to everyone. But they need to know that they have to have quality first. Second, demand and third, passion. If they can get those three points, they can play here,” Peseiro said.
“Of course we have a lot of players, not just eleven, we have twenty, thirty, forty. We have a lot of players to choose from.
“The most important thing is the team, more than the players. At the moment we have to create a group spirit and know what is best for the national team.