By Kayode Ogundare in Ibadan:
Ex-Super Eagles winger Dimeji Lawal is pleased at the invitation of Al Alhy of Egypt’s forward Junior Ajayi to the Super Eagles for the pre-World Cup friendlies later in the month which he described as a recognition of the player’s huge talent which merited a spot in the national team.
Reacting to the list of players released by the Super Eagles manager Gernot Rorh on Wednesday, Lawal observed that there were no major surprises in the list and that this could be good for team bonding and continuity.
“I’m pleased, very impressed, with the list because I can see a form of continuity in the list. Basically it included almost all the players that won us the ticket except for one or two players like Junior Ajayi who we know what he’s achieved with Al Ahly in Egypt. He’s doing very well now but I’ve always known him to be a very good player so this invitation is a recognition of his talent and form. He’s disciplined and hardworking and I pray he makes the final list.”
The former Flying Eagles star who was also the star of Nigeria’s participation at the 1987 U-17 World Cup in Canada also commended the inclusion of Plovdiv of Bulgaria defender Stephen Eze.
He told completesportsnigeria.com: “I think the inclusion of Eze was also a brilliant one. We saw him both at the WAFU and CHAN competitions and he was massive for Nigeria even as a home-based. Now that he plays abroad, the rough edges in his game will be smoothened and he can go on to be one of our best defenders.”
On the unresolved issue of who should be Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper, Lawal claims this is not a crisis but a pointer to thefact that we are spoilt for choice in that department.
“Seriously I don’t see a crisis here. Rather I think Nigeria is blessed to have all of these guys doing very well at the moment. It is just unfortunate that people do not forget when a goalkeeper makes a mistake. When a striker misses three chances but scores one, we all clap and forgive him but that’s not the case with goalkeepers. We tend to remember their mistakes and overlook their saves. If a goalkeeper makes 10 saves in a game but makes one mistake, the tendency is to remember that one mistake and forget about the 10 saves. I believe we are blessed with very good goalkeepers. We saw what Ezenwa did at CHAN before he was injured and when Dele Ajiboye came on for him we also saw that he did very well. I see no crisis here. Whoever is given the task of manning the post, let’sjust get behind him and help build his self-confidence rather than pull them down with negative comments,” he said.
Lawal, who made a scoring debut for the Super Eagles in a 1992 AFCON qualifier against Togo, is currently the Team Manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan.