●Their Fate Was Already Decided Before Congo DR Friendly
Tongues have been wagging following the decision of Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr to drop five players from the provisional list of 30, a couple of whom football fans feel should be in the Russia bound 23-man squad.
But it must be clearly stated that though Rohr had made up his mind to stick with his “boys”, even before the list was drawn and before Congo DR came knocking for the Port Harcourt friendly, everyone cannot be in the World Cup party. Aside Simon Moses, who is one of Rohr’s “boys” who was dropped on account of injury but is still being considered, the players dropped were expected to be dropped.
It is not that the dropped players were not good enough or did not measure up. Fate had made it compulsory or necessary that they won’t be in Russia.
He was not part of Rohr’s team or plans from the qualifiers. He only got invited following his heroics in the crucial stage of the CHAN tournament. Enlisting him in the provisional squad was just to make up thd number as Rohr wasn’t going to let go of the trio of Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and his new favourite Francis Uzoho. Ajiboye never kept a single game under Rohr. So the coach couldn’t have assessed him adequately.
Many believe that this chap is as solid as any of the trio of William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun and Kenneth Omeruo but like Ajiboye, he was never in Rohr’s agenda. He has been a home-based player until some four months ago when he excelled in the CHAN tournament and got a deal and move to Lokomotiv Plovdiv of Bulgaria. That move was too late for Rohr to consider him. He was never given a chance and can’t be said to have under performed.
He was invited about 10 times by Rohr but got a chance for just nearly 20 minutes in the 3-0 friendly against Togo in 2017. Injury took its turn. By the time the Watford of England loanee to Standard Liege of Belgium will return, Rohr had decided on his midfielders. Agbo is one of the players called up in the provisional squad to make up the number in any case of eventuality. A solid central midfielder who could also play as a central defender.
That “wicked” thigh injury is threatening to stop his World Cup dream. I hear that though Rohr is not ready to take any gamble nor go sentimental but some respected voices within are prevailing on him to do a rethink and consider the inputs and contributions of the Genk of Belgium attacker. They say, perhaps before the team’s final group game at the World Cup his injury may have healed. However, a scan on Friday in London will eventually decide the fate of the workaholic forward.
He was called into the provisional squad on account of his 18 League goals in 21 fixtures. Perhaps the comments of NPFL faithful and the hype of the local media could not be ignored or snubbed by Rohr. His debut which was against Congo DR wasn’t a bad outing and many felt that a single game was not enough to assess the leading scorer of the domestic League in national team camp.
But Rohr like a combatant General knows his troop. Lokosa was never a member of this troop. Too bad, so sad. Critics say the only factor that could have changed the mind of Rohr was if Lokosa had scored a hattrick against Congo DR and goes ahead to repeat the same feat in subsequent games because he would have become a bone on his neck.
I can only advise the dropped players to take it in good fate. They have to prove to the coach that they are as good as the World Cup players by doing well for their clubs next season which starts after the World Cup. For Lokosa, let the goal rain. Just keep scoring to show that you truly deserve a place in the future team. I am sure a foreign club is already knocking on your door after your debut against Congo DR.
When someone assigns the backseat to you, you work harder to gain recognition and the front row where you rightly belong. No hard feelings. Let your talent and ability speak for you. After Russia 2018, football continues…
By Desmond Ekwueme