Ex-Super Eagles boss Rohr speaks on Eguavoen’s Onazi selection dilemma

The Nigerian national team handler has been in the news lately for some of the surprising names included in the 30-man list ahead of two crucial games against Ghana

Former Super Eagles Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has waded into the furore created by Augustine Eguavoen’s admission that he included certain players in his most recent squad roster to appease some bigwigs in the Nigeria Football Federation.

It would be recalled that a couple of weeks ago, Eguavoen unveiled a list of 32 players – seven of whom are on standby – invited for the crucial two-legged FIFA World Cup qualifying playoffs against Ghana next week.

Several new names were on the team list, with Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, Rangers’ Calvin Bassey, and FC Copenhagen’s Akinkunmi Amoo in line to make their Super Eagles debut.

Two players whose inclusion has, however, caused an uproar are Watford’s Oghenekaro Etebo on the main roster and 2013 Afcon winner Ogenyi Onazi, on the standby list.

Only just recovering from a lengthy injury layoff, Etebo has played only 17 minutes of competitive football in six months.

Onazi’s case is even more interesting. The 29-year-old old was without a club since leaving Turkish second division side Denizlispor in December before recently joining Saudi Arabia’s Al Adalah.

The defensive midfielder is yet to make his debut for the Knights of the Oasis, a team stuck in the second tier of the country’s football system.

And to add fuel to the controversy, Eguavoen admitted that he had no idea if the Lazio star is presently up to the level required for such a high-profile fixture but that he had included the footballer to ‘pacify everybody’.

While speaking to ESPN, Gernot Rohr hinted that certain individuals attempted to influence his team selection while in charge of the Super Eagles.

But Rohr was clear that he never allowed anyone to make the decisive calls during team selection.

Rohr said: “It is not the moment to speak about the ‘advice’ I got from them about which players we can invite for the national team because I want the players to focus and go to the World Cup.

“But they couldn’t influence my decisions.”

Rohr was sacked in December, on the eve of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, with Eguavoen taking over on an interim basis.

A member of the triumphant Afcon 2013 squad, Onazi has 51 caps for the Super Eagles, the last of which was earned in 2018.

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