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Dennis' situation should not get Super Eagles fans too worked up

4:42 PM SGT 5/1/22
Emmanuel Dennis
The in-form striker was replaced in the Super Eagles’ Afcon squad list and his omission has sparked much controversy.

Watford have been able to keep their star forward Emmanuel Dennis from leaving Vicarage Road this January to represent Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on Sunday.

The Nigerian Football Federation, as claimed by the Hornets, sent in Dennis' call up email late which allowed them to prevent the striker from going for the tournament.

Fans of the club and Nigerian fans have been at each other's throats on social media since then, as the Hornet faithfuls are happy to be keeping a player who is key to their relegation battle. On the other hand, Nigerian fans are sad to be losing a player who could have been the difference in front of goal as they chase a fourth Afcon title.

Losing Dennis is no doubt a big loss for the Super Eagles but Nigerian fans may just be getting worked up over a small matter.

Despite his form, Dennis would have been down the pecking order for the Super Eagles

The 24-year-old has been preferred by most of his coaches to be an impact sub or a pair of fresh legs to wear down opposing defenders.

His early days at Watford also saw him used in this role until he hit his good run of form which forced the club to find ways to field him either as a centre forward or on the flanks, in a move that has paid off.

Dennis’ only real option to start for the Super Eagles with names like Victor Osimhen, Taiwo Awoniyi, Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho in the squad list- had all things gone as planned - would have been on the wings, where he will also face competition from more experienced national team players.

Osimhen will also miss out on the tournament due to injuries and Covid-19 complications.

The Napoli striker declared himself ready for the tournament and had he gone, Dennis might have had more time as Osimhen would be rested more to allow him recover properly.

If he did start, there was no guarantee of a full  game 

Interim manager Augustine Eguavoen will be looking to utilise all the attacking talents he has at his disposal which means that no matter who starts, none of them is sure of completing a full match.

This will be his only tactic to keep the opposing defences guessing as they would be wondering which strikers will be coming on next and how best to deal with them.

This also means that Dennis may not see as much action as fans would have wanted. Any other expectations from fans outside this will be tantamount to setting themselves up for disappointment.

As much as having the Yola-born striker with the Super Eagles will make fans happy, the expectations seem to be out of control and  could spiral down to outright disappointment or unsavoury behaviour.

While the Super Eagles are missing out on a player who is in the form of his life, they are well stacked in the attacking department, making the reactions somewhat exaggerated.

The Super Eagles will begin their race to a fourth Afcon title by taking on Egypt on January 11.

Four days later, they will face Sudan and then four days after Sudan, it will be Guinea-Bissau as they hope to make it past the group stages.