Kingsley Eduwo came back to bite the NPFL fingers that once fed him this week, scoring 2 fabulous goals for Tunisian Club Africain against Rivers United in the Confederations Cup, leaving the NPFL side with more than a mountain to climb.
The Ex-Chan Super Eagles striker played with verve and vigour, reminding me of the abundance in quality that we possess in players eligible for Nigeria.
Another player after my very heart is Anayo Iwuala: a no-nonsense winger who combines brute force with pace and decent dribbling skills to decimate defences and drive forward with intent.
What do Eduwo and Iwuala have in common? Using the national team as stepping stone to elope.
Eduwo actually flew out of the NPFL nest after representing the Homebased Super Eagles in the ill-fated Chan qualifiers against Benin in 2017.
It is bad enough to use the main Super Eagles as ‘means to an end”. But to use the Home based Super Eagles? That is shocking!
I think Oliseh and Ighalo (who both recently clamoured for the inclusion of homebased players in the Super Eagles) have to ask themselves, what will be the immediate future of any homebased player invited to the Super Eagles?
The prognosis is worrisome.
Iwuala became ineligible to feature for the Super Eagles after losing his ‘homebased’ status and obviously Kingsley Eduwo can no longer represent the homebased Super Eagles even if he scores more goals than Erling Haaland in North Africa.
Under the same Oliseh, affectionately named Kolanut boy (Chisom Chikatara) became irrelevant for the Super Eagles after leveraging his cult Homebased Super Eagles status to move to North Africa.
I actually disagree with commentators who write off the NPFL as a junkyard of mediocre and out of date players with nothing to offer the Super Eagles except taking up valuable space with worthlessness.
For me, with all due respect, this view is nonsense.
Rather, any shrewd coach can comb the length and breadth of the NPFL and NNL and come up with athletic and hunger players who can augumen some departments in the Super Eagles.
But what happens after these players make their much awaited Super Eagles breakthrough? They soon afterwards fade into national team obscurity like Chikatara, Iwuala and Eduwo.
It doesn’t help anyone. Not the national team, not the coach, not the fans and not even the players who often languish in North African leagues before calling it quits.
Also, I diverge from Nigeria fans who complain that the national team should not be used as stepping stone. We all know that playing for Nigeria (arguably) accelerated the careers of players like Balogun, Ekong, Ebuehi, Ahmed Musa, Chidera Ejuke and Maduka Okoye to mention but a few.
So, what is wrong if homebased players leverage their Super Eagles status to acquire fame, fortune and career growth? But my problem is that homebased players – as already mentioned – tend to lose their national team status after playing for Nigeria.
The poster boy of all homebased representation in the national team – Sunday Mba – experienced sustained decline in his football career leading to eventual oblivion after his 2013 Afcon heroics.
So, do I believe talents are abound in the NPFL and NNL? Absolutely yes.
Do I think we (all stakeholders) will benefit from making space for these homebased players in the Super Eagles? Recent history suggests it has been fruitless (in the long run) to incorporate homebased players into the Super Eagles.
The ultimate homebased legend for me is Kano Pillars’ Rabiu Ali. Unless we can have a player like him who will be homebased before, during and after his Super Eagles career, then there is little benefit in clamouring for homebased players.
Rabiu Ali, 43 years old, is player I have massive respect for and continue to wish him longevity in his ‘homebased’ career.