By Olawale Alabi
President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ibrahim Gusau, on Saturday in Abuja read the riot act to national team players in view of dwindling performances in recent times.
Gusau told Super Eagles players that visible total commitment would now be a key factor, apart from competence and current form, for selection for the national team at any level.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the senior men’s national team had on Friday in Abuja lost 0-1 to Guinea Bissau in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.
The defeat at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium pushed the Eagles down to second place in their qualification group.
“Let us be very clear about one thing: no player will ever be encouraged against his wish to wear Nigeria’s colours at any time.
“If an invitation is extended to you at any time but you are not physically, psychologically or mentally up to it, you are free to decline.
“Nigeria demands good performances and positive results from any of the teams going forward,” the NFF President said.
He expressed his disappointment at the team’s performance and demanded an immediate reaction.
”I was sorely disappointed by your performance against Guinea Bissau and I know that Nigerians at home and in the diaspora are more than disappointed.
“Things must change, starting with the return match in Guinea Bissau on Monday. Our country is too big to be getting these poor results at international level,” Gusau said.
He recalled that the under-23 male team, the Olympic Eagles, also failed to score against Guinea in a 2023 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations qualifier at the same venue on Wednesday.
“This message is for all the teams, down to the under-15 male side known as Future Eagles.
“Total commitment which we can see in your body language and output will now be a key factor in who wears Nigeria’s jerseys.
“If some players are not ready to give their all at a particular time, others will be and will deliver for our country,” the NFF President stated.
Responding on behalf of his group, team captain Ahmed Musa, apologised to the NFF and Nigerians for the defeat.
He assured that the players were ready to redeem themselves in the return match on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria delegation to Monday’s match in Bissau will depart from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at 7 a.m. on Sunday aboard a chartered flight.
The match comes up at the Estadio 24 de Setembro from 5 p.m. Guinea Bissau time (6 p.m. Nigeria time) on Monday.(NAN)