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Much Ado About Aiyegbeni, Kaita's Return To Eagles

Published by Guardian on Sat, 18 Feb 2012

THE inclusion of Blackburn Rovers' striker, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, and Ukraine-based Sani Kaita among the 11 foreign-based players for the Super Eagles' 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier against Rwanda in Kigali on February 29 is still generating mixed reactions from soccer loving Nigerians. While some are of the view that the duo, especially Aiyegbeni, deserve the call up going by their current form, some think otherwise, writes GOWON AKPODONOR.WHEN the news spread that Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, has listed Yakubu Aiyegtbeni and Sani Kaita, among the players to prosecute his first major game, it generated a lot of comments from many football followers based on the duo's previous performance for the country.Aiyegbeni and Kaita were prominent members of the Super Eagles until the South Africa 2012 World Cup where Nigeria crashed out in the first round of the competition.Although the Super Eagles as a whole did not play up to the people's expectations, Aiyegbeni and Kaita were held particularly liable for Nigeria's failure following some incidents that happened during the Mundial.While Aiyegbeni has been 'credited' for one of the worst misses in the history of the Mundial, Kaita's Kung Fu kick on a Greek player during the Eagles'second game is still blamed for Nigeria's loss of that game.Reacting to Keshi's list of players for the February 29 African Nations Cup qualifier against Rwanda, former Super Eagles Coach, Christian Chukwu, says Keshi's invitation of Aiyegbeni and Kaita to the team was in order.He says, 'I don't Keshi committed any offence by extending invitation to Yakubu and the likes of Sani Kaita.'According to Chukwu, Yakubu and Kaita, like other Nigerian players have the right to play for their country's national team. 'They have the right to play for their country but that is if the team's handler feels they are suitable for his team at the particular time.'To sports analyst, Fred Okoloigwe, Aiyegbeni deserves his inclusion in the team because 'he is currently Nigeria's hottest striker in Europe.'According to Okoloigwe, 'a player is as good as his last game and if the criteria for choosing players for the Eagles is current form no Nigerian striker is more qualified than Aiyegbeni.'I have not watched Kaita's game in recent times to be in a position to judge him, but I think the coaches know what they are expecting from their players before calling Kaita to camp. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt.''But some other football analysts see Yakubu and Kaita call up to the Eagles as 'unnecessary,' especially at this point when emphases are on building a team of 'more committed players.''Is this how Keshi wants to build a winning team for Nigeria''' one caller, who gave his name as Mustapha, asked in a radio programme in Lagos yesterday.'I thought with the victory of Zambia at the Nations Cup, Keshi would have learnt a lesion on how to turn more committed home-based players into a winning team for the country.'If Keshi is inviting 11 foreign-based players for the match against Rwanda, what will he do by the time Nigeria is pitched against countries like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroun, Egypt and even Zambia' What was the essence of camping almost 30 home-based players in Abuja and using them in a friendly against Liberia' For me, there is no justification to invite 11 foreign-based players for the match against Rwanda.'I don't think majority of Nigerians have forgiven Yakubu and Kaita. Let us encourage our home-based players because from the results they have gotten so far, I don't think they have performed badly. What I expected of Keshi was to invite five or six foreign-based players, including the Uche brothers, to come and fight for shirts with the home-based players,' Mustapha added.But another caller, Osita from Surulere disagreed, saying: 'In a game of football, you make use of your best materials to prosecute a match. I don't see anything bad in what Keshi has done. He is the coach and for Keshi to include Yakubu and Kaita in his list of invited players for the game against Rwanda is for the interest of the country.'I am not saying that the coach should not encourage the home-based players, but for me, it will be too risky to play such away match in Kigali with an entirely home-based team. They did well against Liberia and their efforts should be commended; but I don't see anything bad in bringing Yakubu back to the team.'My only worry is what yardstick did Keshi use in inviting Kaita back to the fold' At least, we see Yakubu scoring goals for Blackburn Rovers in the premiership. Where is Kaita playing' Is he doing well for his club at the moment' I am asking this question because for Keshi to build a winning team, this idea of using quota system to invite players to the national team must be discouraged.'After his sterling performance for Blackburn against giants Manchester United at the Old Trafford, Aiyegbeni was named as World Player of the Week by Goal.com, a football website.It was a day Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, set aside to celebrate his 70th birthday, but the two goals by Aiyegbeni, which aided Rovers' 3-2 victory spoilt the celebration for the wily Scot.It would be recalled that Kaita earned a red card for an unnecessary retaliation in Nigeria's second groupphase match against Greece in Bloemfontein while Aiyegbeni missed a sitter against the Republic of Korea inDurban that would have qualified the Super Eagles for the Round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.Aiyegbeni, who just returned from a three-match ban recently, scored for Blackburn Rovers on his return to action last weekend.Also called for the February 29 Nations Cup qualifier against Rwanda are goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defenders Joseph Yobo and Taye Taiwo, as well as midfielders Joel Obi, Dickson Etuhu and Victor Moses. Also in the list are forwards Ahmed Musa, Ikechukwu Uche and Osaze Odemwingie.The players are expected in camp on Sunday, February 26, while the Nigeria delegation to Rwanda will fly out of Abuja aboard a chartered flight on Monday, February 27.
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