AKWA IBOM, Nigeria – Head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, has explained that he left out Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) players, from his squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, because they are not fit enough.
The three-time African champions take on Benin in their opening Group L fixture in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state on Wednesday.
Enyimba defender, Ifeanyi Anaemena, is the only home-based player selected, after he replaced Bryan Idowu in the 23-man squad.
President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, had said Rohr will be tasked to monitor the NPFL, when he renews his contract which will expire in June 2020.
However, addressing the media on Tuesday, the German said: “He didn’t speak on it at all, I know he sometimes has a different opinion like me but then, it is football. I never accept it to make a choice coming from the officials, my choice is the choice of sports arguments only, to take the best players.
“Unfortunately, we could not take more players from the local league because they did not play so it was difficult for them to be fit.
“And also the Chan team, unfortunately, did not qualify that’s also a problem perhaps, the missed competition. I’m sure we have good players here and we see one of them coming from Enyimba, Ifeanyi [Anaemena] who replaced Idowu who has a passport problem.
“Instead of calling someone from Europe in the last moment, we took this player and he has the chance like the Olympic squad, I watched them in their first game [vs Ivory Coast] and they have a chance but we can take one of them who will be able to show something.
“I know that some people cannot be happy about my choice but I can tell you it is my choice, it is always honest.”
After Wednesday’s game in Uyo, the Super Eagles will depart for Maseru, where they will play Lesotho on Sunday.