By Kayode Ogundare:
Former Super Eagles midfielder Mutiu Adepoju has lauded the inclusion of Kano Pillars sensational striker Junior Lokosa in Nigeria’s provisional 30-man list for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The player, who has scored 18 goals in just 19 Nigeria Professional Football League games for former champions Kano Pillars this season, was one of only three home-based players to make the list and Adepoju insists Lokosa earned the right to be included following his goalscoring exploits this season.
“I have seen the list and I must commend the coach for assembling an interesting mix of young and hungry players who are ready to bring glory to the country. The most interesting name on the list is that of Junior Lokosa who has set the league on fire this season. He deserves to be in that list and the coach has shown that he’s abreast of happenings in the domestic league,” Adepoju said in an exclusive chat with Completesportsnigeria.com on Tuesday.
Adepoju, one of just four Nigerians to have played in three different World Cups, reckons it would have been a blow on the Nigerian Professional Football League if the country’s topscorer who is averaging a goal per game was left out.
He however admits that it is not a done deal that Lokosa must be in the final list of 23 for the competition in Russia.
He said: “I know he has to fight for his place in the team and the fact that he’s new may count against him but if he’s as good as or better than what we currently have in the Super Eagles, then the coaches should take him. However, if they drop him, the experience will certainly help him to become a better player so, either way, it’s a win-win for Nigeria.”
The Spanish LaLiga Ambassador also commended the Nigerian Football Federation for the quality of Super Eagles preparations for the World Cup and described it as the best ever in Nigeria’s build-up to the World Cup.
“I’ve been very impressed by the preparations for the World Cup and we must give kudos to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The quality of friendlies lined up for the team, the seamless arrangements for games and the absence of bonus row so far has made this our best preparation so far. Hopefully, the team will reciprocate with a standout performance at the World Cup but we must not put them under any undue pressure by giving them targets. Let’s take it one game at a time and see how it goes,” he told CSN.
The full squad:
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC); Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa); Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Tyronne Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag, The Netherlands); Olaoluwa Aina (Hull City, England); Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge KSV, Belgium); Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes FC, France); William Ekong (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Stephen Eze (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda, China); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (UD Las Palmas, Spain); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Uche Agbo (Standard Liege, Belgium); Joel Obi (Torino FC, Italy); Mikel Agu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Nwankwo Simeon (Crotone FC, Italy); Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars)