AFCON: Oliseh, Ighalo call for inclusion of NPFL players in Nigeria’s provisional list

Super Eagles players pose for a team photo before their AFCON qualifier against Guinea-Bissau. Photograph: The NFF.

Former Super Eagles midfielder, Sunday Oliseh, has backed Odion Ighalo’s call for the inclusion of more Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) players in the Nigerian national team.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Wednesday officially unveiled the 41-man provisional list submitted to it by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Three NPFL goalkeepers were also included such as Ojo Olorunleke of Enyimba International, Bendel Insurance’s Amas Obasogie and Christian Nwoke of Sporting Lagos.

With the Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro expected to submit his final 27-man list on January 3, 2024, Ighalo spoke on the neglect of NPFL players in the Nigerian national team.

“I don’t think it is right not to invite home base players, this is a 40 man list, at least five to seven players should be on the list to encourage them, not inviting them means you don’t focus on the league,” Ighalo told Oma Akatugba.

Nigerians appear to be divided over the invitation of NPFL players to the Super Eagles, especially for international football tournaments with Oliseh also joining the conversation.

“If we had superstars like in the 90’s and early 2000’s playing at the very top world clubsides, UEFA Champions League e.t.c, one could understand the absence of home-based in a 40 man call-up,” Oliseh said.

“Haba, dem just want kill everything wey be home-based in favour of football business! Time we acted!!.”

An X user by name, King David replied Oliseh, saying: “Coachee, I still maintain that we don’t have consistent players in the league.

“The few ones who had been a part of the national team always ghost after some time. Few even use it to get deals outside the country and nothing more about them. I don’t think the national team is to encourage the league.”

The former Super Eagles captain and coach, however, insisted that more NPFL players need to be included in the team.

“Haba, when we dey play 1-1 draws versus lowly Lesotho and Rwanda in important world cup qualifiers, what right do we have to refuse opportunities to home-based or are they no longer Nigerians?,” Oliseh asked.