Sentiments and godfatherism in choosing Nigeria’s final 23 players for the 2018 World Cup ‘is going to kill the team’, warns ex-international Taju Disu.
On Monday, captain John Obi Mikel was joined by 29 others in the provisional list ahead of the Super Eagles’ campaign in Russia.
And while the former defender feels the list is decent enough, he urges coach Gernot Rohr that all players be given fair hearing in the buildups, and the final decision should be void of influence from higher authorities or sensationalism.
“So far, so good I think the list is okay,” Disu told Goal.
“But what I would say is they should not base everything on sentiment, they should go out there with the best legs. No sentiment, no godfatherism because it is going to kill the team.
“It is always like that. Nobody should go into the world cup because he has a godfather. But I pray it doesn’t happen because I know it is been happening.”
Disu feels veteran striker Obafemi Martins was ‘unfortunate’ not to have made the list after his exploits with Shanghai Shenhua was halted by a serious injury, thus, ending hopes of a recall.
And with Nigeria set to play DR Congo, England and the Czech Republic to prepare for the World Cup, the former Abiola Babes defender believes some players, with outside chances, might use that opportunity to gatecrash the setup.
“At the end of the day, you never know what would happen because when they go out for trials, players you don’t even think that would impress would eventually go there and perform well and make the team. So, I think it is still open to everybody,” he said.
Five wing-backs have been selected in the preliminary list with the experienced Elderson Echiejile part of them.
The left-back’s stock has dropped massively and prior to his recent call-up, he has yet to feature for the national team since the crucial win over Zambia in Uyo.
Also, he has only 12 appearances [nine league games] across all competitions in loan spells at Sivasspor and Cercle Brugge this season.
“Well, the coaches picked him again, so the only thing I will say is at the end of the day I love coaches who pick players on merit and not sentiment,” Disu continued.
“If you pick players along because of sentiment or because they have godfathers, it is going to hurt the team at the end because the World Cup is a global tournament; a tournament you have to go with only your best.
“You must go there with players ready to play at any time because anything can happen, injuries can still happen. You don’t pick players just to make up the numbers or based on sentiments because the opportunity might come there for him to play – anybody might get injured.
“That’s the advise I’d offer Rohr, because I know there’d be some players, imposed on him by some so-called godfathers. It’s bound to happen. So, the coach should know he has [the 23 men] to prepare, not picking some just to make up the numbers. Go there with the best legs and make sure they represent Nigeria well.”
Nigeria face Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the Group D.