Just as we Super Eagles fans were waiting eagerly for the back-to-back friendlies against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the first 2 weeks in June to then be followed by another high profile one against Mexico in July, mass withdrawals of Super Eagles players due to injuries (and other factors) is threatening to put a spanner in the works.
Of the trimmed down list of 23 players, local media outlets have now reported that 5 of them have withdrawn due to injuries. These are: Osimhen, Simy,Onyeka, Ebuehi and Aina.
From the original list of 31, five players pulled out voluntarily – citing injuries and other factors. These included: Sanusi, Aribo, Akpoguma, Ajayi and Onyekuru.
Even late call-up Samson Tijani has also reportedly ruled himself out, making it no less than 11 players ruling themselves out of international assignments for Nigeria.
When I thought about it, I have to admit, I have never witnessed this much flood of players pull out of matches for Nigeria in contemporary times. We all know players at times play through the pain barrier as they tend to nurse minor injuries every now and then.
It then got me thinking whether the issue of non-payment of players’ bonuses might have something to do with it.
An article ran by Espn appears to feed into my suspicion.
“The players are not happy,” a source, who is one of the players who withdrew from the game, purportedly alleged to ESPN.
“They have not paid bonuses and allowances, nothing at all for the entire  Afcon qualifiers.” He said.
“We have sacrificed by playing throughout the qualifiers without being paid. I think now, with all the injuries, it is hard for many of us to make the sacrifice to come and play a meaningless friendly when the outstanding bonuses have not been paid.
It is better for us to stay away, recover properly, rest and get ready for the new season and the World Cup qualifiers.” He concluded.
This is bad.
At a time we are celebrating everything good about the Super Eagles, this is an own-goal by the NFF.
My prayer is for the friendlies to somehow go ahead. Thereafter, the NFF should settle all outstanding payments to the coaching crew and players without delay.
If not, they risk jeopardising Nigeria’s world cup and Afcon qualifying campaigns.
And this will be unforgivable!
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