WC Qualification Africa

2022 World Cup Qualifying: Onazi? Nigerians debate squad for Ghana playoff

3:03 PM WAT 05/03/2022
Ogenyi Onazi of Nigeria.
The central midfielder, who is a long-term absentee, was named among the players on the standby list

The selection of the Nigeria provisional squad to face Ghana in the 2022 World Cup playoffs has continued to generate intense debate.

Fans have continued to dissect the roster shortlisted on Friday by Augustine Eguavoen for the March encounters against their neighbours, the Black Stars.

Initially, it was Odion Ighalo’s inclusion that saw fans rise up in arms, but naming Ogenyi Onazi  - who plays for Al-Adalah in Saudi Arabia - among the standby players has also raised questions from keen supporters.

Other players on the standby list are Chidozie Awaziem, Jamilu Collins, Chidera Ejuke, Taiwo Awoniyi, Paul Onuachu, and Peter Olayinka.

One fan, in a reply to Ademola Lookman, who was celebrating his call-up after he was cleared by Fifa to feature for the Super Eagles, sarcastically asked whether he was seeing Onazi in the squad.

Another said former coach Gernot Rohr made better selections than his successor. The German was the Super Eagles' coach from 2016 to 2021 and was dismissed shortly before Afcon, where Eguavoen took charge of the team.

Others felt that Onazi "was smuggled into the squad" yet he is past his prime. The central midfielder was among the stars that won the Africa Cup of Nations title with Nigeria in 2013.

One revisited the Super Eagles' performance in the 2021 Afcon finals that were held in Cameroon. They were defeated by Tunisia in the Round of 16 as they exited the stage earlier than was expected by many, especially after the stellar show in the group stage.

One more took issue with the presence of not only Onazi but also Abdullahi Sheu and Ighalo.

One gave a general assessment of Nigeria's football, describing it as "a joke", adding that Onazi should not have been named even if the list was extended to include 70 players.

Eguavoen called up a provisional squad of 32 players that will start their training camp on March 21 in Abuja.

Not all reactions to his inclusion attracted negative responses, as one explained the advantages the Super Eagles would get from him.

Let us know in the comments section below if you think Onazi deserves his place in the provisional squad.