Side Kick

Eagles v Brazil: Can Rohr justify Viv-Otabor’s invitation?


The Super Eagles will at the weekend be presented an opportunity to avenge their 0-3 loss at the Abuja National Stadium by the Samba Boys of Brazil in Singapore.
Ahead of the Grade A international friendly match, the Super Eagles squad appeared depleted following injuries to a number of first team players.
The unavailability of some major players have seem invitations handed out to some fringe players including Bulgaria-based midfielder, Solomon Viv-Otabor.
However, among the new invites, Nigerian football aficionados have consistently been asking questions on the addition of Viv-Otabor in place of the injured Samuel Kalu.
Never has Nigerians queried the invitation of a player with so much verve like they have done in the case of Viv-Otabor since the appointment of Gernot Rohr as Super Eagles manager.
For fans, pundits and critics, they all feel there are some players who do not deserve their place in the squad because there are better players.
France manager Didier Deschamps has come in for criticism for inviting Olivier Giroud despite his struggle for game time at Chelsea, while Germany manager Joachim Low is under pressure to drop Manuel Neuer for Ter Stegen from Die Mancshaft line up.
Otabor’s invitation came as a surprise to many who felt there are better players who could have been called up to replace Kalu.
Who is Otabor?
The 22-year-old was born in England to Nigerian parents and currently plays for Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia. Before moving to Eastern Europe, Otabor played for English sides like Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City where he won the young best player award in 2016.
Although he is eligible for England, he opted to play for Nigeria in 2015 and was invited to train with the country’s football Olympic team in 2015.
Is his invitation justified?
If based on form, there is no justification for his invitation especially when one considers other players who have performed better in this current campaign.
Viv-Otabor has played 10 times for CSKA Sofia this season but has only lasted 90 minutes once.
In those 10 appearances, he has managed just a lone assist which is dire for a winger playing in a less fancied league like the Bulgarian topflight.
In contrast, the likes of Chidera Ejike and David Okereke who should have been the perfect replacement for Kalu have both delivered better performances in superior leagues.
Ejike has been one of the stars for Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie this season, scoring four goals in nine appearances for the club.  He was named the club’s young player for the month of September and would have definitely been a better replacement for Kalu than Otabor.
David Okereke is also enjoying a fine campaign for Club Brugge where he has scored four goals in 10 league appearances for the Blauw-Zwart.
Okereke and Ejike have been two of the best Nigerian players playing in Europe this campaign, and the fact their performances were overlooked for someone who is struggling to find his feet in Bulgaria raises the question if he was forced on by Rohr.
It’s a common practice in Nigeria for player’s agents to lobby NFF officials for a national team call-up and that may have been the case with Otabor.
Given Rohr’s antecedent with selection, it could be argued that the former Birmingham City  player who is said to be childhood friend of Eagles new star, Joe Aribo may have been forced on the gaffer by officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Although it is a friendly match and it gives the manager the chance to see new players, call up should be based on merit. Otabor has not done anything spectacular to earn the call-up.
While the likes of Ejike and Okekere may still get their chances in future games, it’s disappointing to see connections taking precedence over merits in getting a call up to the Super Eagles.
It is however up to the new invitee (Otabor) to justify his inclusion in the squad by proving his worth if fielded against Brazil. Should the Bulgaria-based midfielder put up a performance similar to that of Aribo on his debut, he will no doubt be handed extended run in the senior national team.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button