The criteria used in picking players that will represent Nigeria at the Africa U20 Cup of Nations has been revealed to Owngoalnigeria.com by coach of the team Paul Aigbogun in an exclusive interview in Abuja.
Aigbogun named his squad of 21 players for the tournament which will be hosted by Niger Republic and ahead of Nigeria’s departure for the tournament by Tuesday next week, the coach has explained the method he used in selecting his squad.
The explanation of the coach was captured by Owngoalnigeria.com correspondent in four formats namely Goalkeepers, Defenders, Midfielders and Attackers.
Goalkeepers : The first introduction I handed out when I resumed as coach was very clear on goalkeepers. I told them I want goalkeepers with good height. That’s why we have three tall goalkeepers in the squad. Akpan Udoh was ahead at a time but after our first qualifiers Daetan Ogundare came up really well and displaced him.
The competition took a whole new twist when Olawale Oremade was picked as first choice for the WAFU Championship. He was very commanding, so simply put the three of them earned their spots by virtue of their performance which was better than other who came.
Defenders : Central defence was my biggest headache, we needed somebody who is hard in tackles and we saw it in Igho Ogbu, then at full back position we picked just one right back in Mike Zarumma because Ibrahim Abubakar “Babawo” showed us how well he can operate in same role.
Picking a left full back was difficult to be honest, we had three very, very good left backs in camp. Asking Ibrahim Usman to leave was probably the hardest decision I made in picking the team but it makes no sense to name three left back in a squad of 21.
Midfielders : Getting the blend in the middle didn’t come as easy as we all thought. Afeez Aremu has the engine to cover lot of grounds, but in Ibrahim Alhassan we have a playmaker who can create goal scoring chances. The others selected have specific features, somebody like Liamed Quadri is very, very enterprising. Peter Eletu did very well at the WAFU U20 Championship.
Attackers : Peter Eneji could and should have made the squad but in his absence, the three players we picked on the flank namely Ibrahim Abubakar, Effiom Maxwell and Adeshina Gata all upped their game. Eneji is no doubt talented but the team comes first, unfortunately he left us when we were about to begin team blending. It’s hard to leave out the players picked ahead of him.
Aliyu Ibrahim ( Bravo) did well in training and test games after initially struggling to make the step up from up from U17 where he was. It’s unfortunate that we will be without Wasiu Alalade and Victor Boniface but Pascal Durugbor has really picked up particularly in our last three test games.