When Afcon hostilities erupt against the Pharaohs Of Egypt on January 11, the Super Eagles will be without arguably Nigeria’s most exciting forward in club football in the mould of mercurial Emmanuel Dennis. A number of players had dropped out from Nigeria’s original 28 man list but only one of them eloped without being injured or due to illness: Emmanuel Dennis. The other missing players – Balogun, Shehu and Osimhen – will be absent due to ‘natural causes’. Dennis’ absence is 100% man-made. But the question is, which man made the damage and caused the drama: Emmanuel Dennis, Watford FC management or the NFF?
Personally, I think all of these entities contrived to create the environment for Dennis’ omission and I actually believe they are winners! From Dennis who (according to certain media reports) wants guaranteed game time to Watford who threw toys out of thier pram to dissuade him from attending the Afcon to the NFF who handled the matter without corporate skill: all of them are culpable. However, I strongly believe Dennis’ Afcon absence is a win-win-win situation (and I add another ‘win’ for some of us fans) for all parties. So I am unruffled by his absence; as a matter of fact, I am relieved at how quickly the NFF moved to replace him with a more enthusiastic and no less exciting winger-striker Peter Olayinka. So, why is it a win-win situation all-round?
Dennis: I remember England striker Jamie Vardy who was deadly for Leicester going into Russia 2018.
Unfortunately he wasn’t coach Southgate’s first choice striker hence he spent more time warming the bench than rattling the net in Russia.
Vardy later moaned that it would have been better for him to have been excluded from England’s squad to allow him spend time with his family rather than cuddling the bench in Russia.
So, me being pragmatic, I 100% side with Dennis if he prefers walloping the net for Watford that caressing the bench in Cameroon.
Watford FC: it is a no-brainer, Dennis is having the form from the gods and they need his goals to avert the cold hands of relegation. The Hertfordshire outfit are a massive winner in Dennis’ Afcon absence.
Eguavoen: the temporary Super Eagles gaffer is now no longer under duress to play a striker that may not necessarily click with his tactical approach.
It is not a forgone conclusion that Dennis would set the Afcon ablaze nor would easily displace other Super Eagles wingers despite his Watford adventure.
Eguavoen now has the mental space to focus on players who will not feel ‘hard done by’ if benched.
Super Eagles fans: Peter Olayinka is an exciting forward who is a workaholic. In the absence of Dennis, fans can now enjoy what Olayinka brings to the party if selected.
We should not expect him to gnash his teeth in public if overlooked like Dennis would inevitably do.
For me, it would definitely have been great to see Dennis strut his stuff in Cameroon. However as he is not guaranteed game-time, I thoroughly understand why he would want to stay in England. We have very many exciting wingers who will make it hard to miss Dennis in Cameroon.