By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Former Super Eagles midfielder Friday Ekpo has leapt to the defence of home-based Super Eagles head coach Salisu Yusuf for not inviting in-form Anthony Okpotu to the team for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers against Benin but admits the Lobi Stars striker is good enough for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
The Lobi Stars star currently has 17 goals to his credit in the Nigeria Professional Football League, one goal behind Stephen Odey of MFM with 18 goals.
“To start with, Tony Okpotu is a good striker but I will not blame the national team coaches led by Yusuf for not inviting him for the CHAN qualifiers,” Ekpo told Completesportsnigeria.com.
“There must have been reasons for that. It’s not all about the output on the pitch. Other criteria could be his adaptability to the game plan of the coach as well as his discipline. There are things behind the scenes that are never talked about.
“However the boy is a great talent, no doubt. You cannot score 17 goals in the NPFL and not be special. At least all are not penalty kicks. And I agree that he is good enough to be included in the Eagles side for the World Cup qualifier against Cameroon in Uyo and Yaounde.
“Gernot Rohr watched the CHAN qualifiers in Cotonou and Kano, and with the score card of the players in the NPFL from Yusuf and other backroom staff, he must have known the exceptional home-based players good for Cameroon.”
The Super Eagles host Cameroon in Uyo on 1 September and travel to Yaounde three days later for key World Cup qualifiers.
The official list of players to prosecute the World Cup qualifiers is expected to be released this week.