Coach Stephen Keshi has been commended for giving players in the Nigeria Premier League opportunity to fight for a place in the senior national team.
Since Keshi's ascent to the managerial position of the national team, players like Godfrey Oboabona of Sunshine Stars and Enugu Rangers' Sunday Mba, who was recently named into the prestigious Goal 50, have become a key part of the Super Eagles.
Speaking with Goal, Ondo State Football Agency executive director, Mike Idoko believes Keshi’s success story with the Super Eagles can be hinged on the fact he never overlooked the local-based stars stating that it takes a lot of confidence for a national team handler to take such a risk.
“I must commend Stephen Keshi for being fearless. He took a risk former managers, even the foreign ones, couldn’t take. I think he must have borrowed a leaf from [Clemens] Westerhof because he took time before building the USA '94 team which we have not been able to assemble up till now. The NFF also must be commended too because if they had not given him the chance, Keshi wouldn’t have been successful,” said Idoko.
“All our boys now go to the Super Eagles to fight for a place because it is glaring that they are no longer training materials like they were in the past where the foreign-based were picked ahead of them. At the Africa Cup of Nations, he took along six players which has not happened before,” he added.
The football administrator, however, warned him not to be carried away by the home-based performances stating he must select players that will stand the test of time.
“If this trend continues, the league will experience rapid growth but the coach should be careful on his choice of local based talents. He must look at their age and ask himself if those players can play for a long period of time,” concluded Idoko.