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Garba Lawal: Competition for places key for Nigeria's World Cup preparation

6:17 PM GMT+4 22/03/2018
Super Eagles
The ex-Nigeria international is pleased with the contest for playing time in Gernot Rohr’s team ahead of the country’s sixth World Cup appearance

Garba Lawal has lauded the competition for places in the Nigeria national team and stated that it will help to make the squad better before the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

Gernot Rohr invited 28 players for the country's friendlies against Poland on March 23 and Serbia, four days later in London. The invited players include Torino midfielder Joel Obi who returned after a lengthy absence while CHAN stars Stephen Eze, Gabriel Okechukwu and Al Ahly’s Junior Ajayi were handed their maiden invite to the first-team set up.

And Lawal who scored six goals in 57 appearances for Nigeria has highlighted the challenge for places as an important factor in the country’s preparation for the World Cup.

“The competition in the Super Eagles is good and healthy. With the competition, you will know that no one has an automatic shirt, it's very key and very important,” Lawal told Goal.

“It will make them better and it will make them competitive. It's good for the team and the players."

On his memorable World Cup moment, the 43-year-old who represented Nigeria at the 1998 and 2002 finals chose the encounter against Spain in France ’98 that ended with a 3-2 victory in favour of the Super Eagles.

The west African nation fought back from behind twice against La Roja as goals from Mutiu Adepoju, Sunday Oliseh and Andoni Zubizarreta's own goal cancelled out Fernando Hierro and Raul's efforts.

Although the Super Eagles bowed out of tournament in the round of 16 after a 4-1 loss to Denmark, the former Elfsborg and Roda player described the match that was played at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes as a massive one for him.

“My memorable moment was in France 1998, the game against Spain. It was a massive encounter,” he continued.

“The game tells a lot about the Nigerian spirit because we played against the best Spain team I've ever seen including the substitutes. The memory is very key.”

When quizzed about the possiblity of the present Nigeria team to replicate such feat, Lawal says: “It depend on them if they want to make history, as a player when you play in the World Cup, it is very important. No costly mistake is tolerated because it is a tournament for the best players in the world.”