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Eguavoen: Ajayi Desperate To Play For Super Eagles At AFCON 2021

Eguavoen: Ajayi Desperate To Play For Super Eagles At AFCON 2021

Super Eagles interim coach, Austine Eguavoen has revealed that his decision to invite Semi Ajayi to the team was due to his determination and desperation to represent Nigeria at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ajayi, who was initially not in the 28-man list that was released by Eguavoen, was considered for selection because he was selected by former Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr in the provisional squad list submitted to the Confederation of African Football, CAF.


The Nigerian international last played for the senior national team against Sierra Leone in November 2020 after falling out of favour with Rohr.

However, in an interview with NFF TV, Eguavoen stated that the West Brom defender has displayed the right spirit that the team wanted to be successful at the bi-annual tournament.

“Semi Ajayi, obviously he was not on the 28-man list, but he was on the alternate list. Kevin Akpoguma was on the alternate list, Onyekuru and co.

“And then we reached out to Semi, he jumped at it. I think that is the spirit we want because it’s not a right for everybody to coach and play for Nigeria, it’s a privilege.

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“If it is not coming, we have to take it, if it comes, you have to grab it so that’s where we are.

“We are expecting them after their last games so we can have a full house.”

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  • Golden Child 11 months ago

    Ok, I understand the reason for his selection ahead of Akpoguma, he showed the desire required. Wish the SE all the best.

  • Four four two 11 months ago

    Invariabl,is Egu saying that Akpoguma did not show the right attitude of didn’t want to honor the invitation?

    • Golden Child 11 months ago

      He probably wasn’t enthused about being on the alternate list and perhaps rightly so. There are names on the main list he felt he was better than. Attitude is everything, if he did not show the right attitude then SE is better of having a disgruntled player in camp. Having said that, the technical bench needs to show transparency and fairness in team selection. Most players do not have a problem being left out of the team if others are better than them because they understand it is a competitive game but to be left out when you are clearly better than those chosen; it can leave a bitter taste for some players. Does the SE gaffer even call players left out to explain the rationale for their exclusion, I do not think so and they probably wouldn’t because there is no rationale. What is the rationale of having omeruo who is playing in laliga 2 being picked ahead of kelvin who plays regularly in the German first tier? Man management is key, just shows you that egus is lacking here. Even at club level, man management is key; players would walk up to the gaffer and demand an explanation on why they are left out. Once they are aware, they can improve on themselves. To just state that “Nigeria is a big country and everyone should feel privileged to be called up” only exposes how archaic his methods are. I watched an interview coach egus granted and he was asked if he had spoken to his players, his response left me a little disappointed. He stated he had spoken to some of them. Immediately it was confirmed that he is the Head Coach , he should reach out to all his players. This was why gernot rohr was respected because he respected his players also.

      • Ebhohimen Jonathan 11 months ago

        There is still need to think outside the box… Besides the fact that the list was submitted before our Coach, Egu was appointed, and the fact that some of the Afcon players are indeed from local league sides, for instance majority of the Egyptians players are from Zamalek FC, a local club side, why not clamour for the development of our local league so that we can have players from Udoji United, Kano Pillars, Bendel United, MFM Fc
        in the Super Eagles instead of crying over non invitation of players from German side or any foreign club for that matter? I think it is slave mentality to always look outwards instead of inwards. We must do away with such silly mindset. Our Coach Egu who has shown interest in grassroots development needs more time to invent the wheel. Let’s hope the NFF will give him every necessary support.

        • Golden Child 11 months ago

          My brother, this things are not as easy as that. There are many factors to league development. The first, is a growing and productive economy. With massive unemployment, there would be few fan interest because is it a fan who is yet to eat and is struggling that would now say he wants to pay for a football ticket. With few fans, comes with its negative implications, namely:

          1. Lack of corporate sponsorship for the league and the clubs. It is a game of numbers , corporate sponsors will get involved when there is a massive reach of people because they can sell their products. For clubs, they would have enough funds to run their clubs , attract better players and acquire better facilities that improves the glamour of the league.

          2. With lack of funds, local clubs are forced to sell their best players; case in point is anayo iwuala who was sold recently. People would always go where they have better opportunities, this is a fact. To retain players,our club sides must be able to match wages of other club sides in Africa at the least.

          There is a talent drain in this country and it is not limited to football players only. Look at where football is thriving globally, It is usually paralleled by a thriving economy. How many club sides have stadium of their own to talk less of managing the facilities properly.

          Fans are what give breath to football, without them the game is dead!

      • Presently I feel Omeruo will do better than kelvin having being with team for long time and bonded well with the team. Given Kelvin more time he might being better off Though rhor too didn’t help him because he never had confident in him.

  • I can see the spirit is high. I like the understanding in the camp mostly as the players are bonding well with their coach if the training is anything to go by. Go for Gold Ajayi.

  • Hmmm…that’s the problem I used to have with our coaches and NFF officials. Players like this won’t get the opportunities they want. like Dessers and Bassey that both rejected their country of births for Nigeria but they will be running after unserious like Dennis, eze etc. Nawa o!

  • Basher 11 months ago

    As a Nigerian, Majority of us do so many things for the country because of our love for the nation not because of the money involve…if I am coach Egu I will only invite people that show the zeal to represent the country.i am always happy and proud to show the Nigerian in me at every opportunity I have… God bless Nigeria

  • Olusegun.B. 11 months ago

    If it is based on zeal, then he should also have considered cyriel dessers who is Belgian from his father but chose to represent his mother’s country Nigeria and who had to pick himself up in feynoord in the Netherlands and score brilliant goals again . Kevin Akpoboma compared to Kenneth Omeruo is truly deep . A guy who’s playing in the bundersliga top division and we all are seeing him compared to a guy who’s playing in the second division of the Spanish liga speaks volume when it comes to selection esp when you place him as an alternative player . Well I sure hope and wish the team the best Nnevertheless there’s still a lot to work upon based on team selection sentiments and merits .

  • Henry Farle 11 months ago

    @Ebhohimen Jonathan, We can’t rule out the fact that some people are senseless or the person they envisaged wasn’t given this rare opportunity. Just like you have mentioned, the way to go is to get more local content involvement in everything Nigeria irrespective of instant results. We want to win Afcon next month but we do not want to put a time tested programme in place. It is obvious that Mr. Eguavoen is interested in our local league but he can’t do it all alone. This is where every Nigerian involvement is required. I’m glad we have desperate foreign players like Ajayi but the good is to have a vibrant league. It is Nigeria first.

    • You just summarized it. It is getting clear Eguavoen is leading SE to the next Afcon in 2 years time but I would like him to at least include players from our local league in the team. I don’t fancy it when we have to keep writing those foreign coaches to release players. It is nonsense. NFF na beg we set, make una support our own to move into every local government area to discover ogbonge footballers after all them Amokachi, Cele Babayaros, cerezo, Sia2, all of them came from our own local league before journeying into foreign clubs. We can do it again.

      • Patrator 11 months ago

        If NFF can implement this with all sincerity and honesty, bringing out players from grass roots. Nigeria go get hin own Messi . Football Talents full streets untaped. A structure needs to be put in place to facilitate that.

      • Golden Child 11 months ago

        @Bello, you are not getting it. When these new amokachis are discovered, they are sold to clubs outside the country. The real issue is that the best players do not stay. I remember reading an article segun odegbami where he stated that during his days , travelling outside the country had no allure. In his own case , he had the opportunity to play outside the country but he turned it down. In his days players were stars, they earned a good living but now some clubs will not pay salaries , some will owe players for months and with rising inflation, if the opportunity presents itself for them.to seek greener pastures outside, they would japa instantly. It is talent that brings football fans to the stadium, if you continue to lose that, it would he hard to develop any league.

        • You are the one not getting it. Like you didn’t quite digest my post. I am talking about Eguavoen going to our localities discovery local players (like Amokachi Babayaros, Ikpeba) even if they will be sold to foreign clubs as against waiting on one Lookman to first change nationality because he had once represented the union jack. I have the full conviction the sports administrators will have no alternative than to give Eguavoen the leeway to dig into our local league for inputs. It might take between 2 to 4 years.

  • _ Rohr Rated Ajayi over Akpoguma? _

    Semi Ajayi, who missed out on participation at the last afcon tournament, is apparently over the moon this time around as circumstances conspired to lead to his last gasp invitation.

    What I find inscrutable is the claim that Semi Ajayi could have been placed in a higher pecking order in the original full list prepared and submitted by the former controversial head coach Gernot Rohr and that Akpoguma was just in the ‘alternate list’.

    That flies in the face of the facts on ground at the time.

    “Semi Ajayi, obviously he was not on the 28-man list, but he was on the alternate list. Kevin Akpoguma was (also) on the alternate list,” said enthusiastic coach Eguavoen according to the article above.

    Well, if Gernot Rohr were in charge, Akpoguma would have gone to the Afcon as he appeared to have been miles ahead of Ajayi in his pecking order.

    After the conclusion of the Afcon qualifiers in March last year, it seemed Gernot Rohr had seen enough of Semi Ajayi having overlooked him for all the world cup qualifiers later in the year.

    Conversely, Kevin Akpoguma was invited for all the world cup qualifiers he was fit to attend. Gernot Rohr would speak highly of him even when the former Germany Youth International had a tepid performance for Nigeria, which was often the case for most parts.

    Although Akpoguma had yet to win over many Super Eagles fans, the league he plays and improvements and versatility he showed in club of late was starting to win many doubters over.

    I just find it incredulous that Gernot Rohr would have placed Ajayi – who is having a torrid time at Wes Brom – in a higher pecking order in his list of players to prosecute the Afcon ahead of Akpoguma.

    What Akpoguma’s exclusion, despite the number of drop outs we had from the original list, is telling me is that he is not highly rated by some very influencial members of the technical committee of the Glass House.

    Omeruo, Ndah, Ajayi and even Jamilu Collins are all players that could have been excused to make way for Akpoguma in this Afcon if we go by recent consistency in club football and the calibre of league they play

    Now, I am not bemoaning Akpoguma’s snub. Far from it. I am yet to be sold entirely on what he brings to the Super Eagles. As acknowledged, he has improved tremendously in club football of late but for Nigeria, he still seems somewhat lightweight defensively and a huge gamble to take to a major tournament.

    I am pleased for Semi Ajayi and would definitely have picked him subjectively ahead of Akpoguma for the Afcon.

    I think the Super Eagles are light in the defensive midfield department with Ndidi the only natural born DM selected. Ajayi has moonlighted that role for Nigeria and should be able to reprise it if the need arises in Cameroon.

    Admittedly he is flaky at centre back and prone to errors but can be solid for most parts and offers far more potent goals threat than Akpoguma in set piece routines.

    Akpoguma was a Rohr pet project. Playing him ahead of players like Aina and Ebuehi further alienated more fans from the already unpopular Rohr at the time.

    With his mentor (Rohr) gone, will we ever see Akpoguma dawn a Super Eagles jersey in the future? It looks very dicey indeed

  • Mr Hush 11 months ago

    In terms of preference, on this, I stand with Rohr.
    I would always pick Akpoguma over Ajayi.

    Ajayi has been given enough opportunities in the Super Eagles but hasn’t done enough. In fact Ajayi has been given more time in the Eagles than an Akpoguma even by Rohr.
    So Rohr’s choice was justified.

    And when talking of club football,Akpoguma takes the day.
    They’re both versatile in terms of skillset but Akpoguma (for me) is more grounded.

    There is simply no sporting reason Ajayi was picked over Akpoguma by Eguavoen. I believe it is all down to personal preference, which is fairly respectable. Every coach has the choice to pick his players.

    That said; I embrace Ajayi for accepting this call and going to war on our behalf. It is an honour. I hope he prove his mantle and show us the quality he can produce. I wish him and the Eagles well. It can only be gold .

  • Pius Obemhen 11 months ago

    It is good our players are desperate to play for us but I am more concerned about the long run.

    @ Bello, your submission is closed to the Belgium Blueprint which I was reliably informed is being looked into by our football body, hopefully, they will speak on it soon. The truth is that it gives that allowance for time and it’s inclusiveness make for local participation compulsory, Eguavoen will then have more time to properly organize our football. It is set out as do it yourself right from the youth stage say 10 years old who are guided, given instructions but are allowed to play amongst themselves. They are given more responsibilities at 12. As they graduate to say 15 years to begin to participate in u15 games from whence the good ones are moved into u17 all the way to u20. At this stage, though time consuming, you begin to harvest players in the mould of Jay Jay Austin Okocha, the Kanu would emanate, Ikpeba style alike and all that. The challenge with some people is that they hardly read and don’t really know what the Belgium Blueprint is all about. It is not only about Coach Eguavoen as other coaches like Amunike, Egbo etc who have never coach our national team would be delegated to the lower rung to coach the u15 and there about. This would give room for gradual movement and monitoring up the ladder. Nigeria is certain to be the winner at the end of it all. So, our local coaches should be given more time to prosecute the BB.

    • Friday 11 months ago

      Ajayi is already in but it is clear we are looking farthest.
      Pius, that means it is possible for our coaches to train good footballers from our local league. Then it is sheer laziness and waste of resources to start deliberating on foreign players. I watched Remo Stars vs MFM last week and then asked, can it be possible to invite the boys to the SE? When I look at the Pharaoh they are mostly Ah Hillaly of Egypt, Zamalek, may be only Mo Salah and two others from EPL. My only question, will Eguavoen be able to train Nigerians in one year?

      • Pius Obemhen 11 months ago

        One year is not enough. He would need at least 6 years but minimum 4.