Austine Eguavoen has explained why he include less home-based players in the Super Eagles 28-man squad for AFCON 2021.
Enyimba goalkeeper John Noble is the only home-based player who made the final list for the AFCON.
Eguavoen gave reasons why he could not include more players from the home front.
“I had like seven home-based players I wanted to train with the Eagles and see what happens but my hands were tied,” the 1994 AFCON winner said in an interview on NFF TV.
“The league only started this month and players have to play for their teams so no time to play any friendly games. “I had to reach out to some of them in the league but we had to submit the list and there was no time to play friendly games but hopefully they will still have the chance.
“It really doesn’t make sense to bring them now and deny them from playing for their clubs, midweek and weekend and then we are on the trip to Cameroon and they go back home, it doesn’t really make sense but their chance will come.“ Yesterday, the quartet of Semi Ajayi, Tyronne Ebuehi, Henry Onyekuru and Peter Olayinka were called in to replace Victor Osimhen, Shehu Abdullahi, Emmanuel Dennis and Leon Balogun and Eguavoen praised the players for their encouraging response despite not making the initial 28-man list.
“Onyekuru, Olayinka, Ebuehi, Ajayi all didn’t hesitate despite not being in the initial 28-man list. We had to reach out to Ebuehi’s club president (at Venezia) and reach an agreement. They just told us he should play the last game for them and they will make him available.
“So with the 28-man list we submitted now, I think it’s good enough, we just have to work hard and make Nigeria proud.“
And on the arrival of more players ahead of the AFCON which kicks off on January 9th, the 1994 and 1998 World Cup Star added:“Hopefully few of the players will come in on Saturday and the last ones will come in after their last games in Europe.
“When we touch down we will see what we can ask for. But the bottom line is that 97 per cent of the team are players that have been playing together and I believe the understanding is there.“