Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis are Super Eagles invitees that failed to make the squad for AFCON.
Al-Shabab and Watford refused to release the players because their invitations arrived late.
The club versus country battle will rage on for a long time to come. It is a war that has been for ages without a resolution. The worst-hit of this war between club and country is the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The competition comes up in January, a time of the year when the weather suits Africa, but right in the middle of the European season.
With Europe showing a disregard and disdain for AFCON, the battle has always been tight. European clubs have clamoured for a shift in date, with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) protecting its pride by refusing to move the date to fit with European summer.
The 2021 AFCON taking place in Cameroon came under a lot of heat, with the usual clamour for its shift. CAF insisted, if the Euros was played despite Covid-19, then AFCON would be played.
The competition kicked off on January 9, but the club versus country debate has refused to go away. Two players that have come under the spotlight are Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis. The two players failed to show up for the Super Eagles after invitations, and the interim coach Augustine Eguavoen has aimed a subtle shot at the duo.
Eguavoen not impressed with Ighalo and Dennis effort
The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicked off on January 9, with the Super Eagles arriving at Garoua with 25 players. By January 10, the population of the squad had risen to 27, with Jamilu Collins late arrival. Two players invited for the AFCON, Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis, will not be playing the tournament. Ighalo is the only player that the Super Eagles were unable to replace.
The Super Eagles interim coach Augustine Eguavoen has been left unimpressed with the desire of the players to feature for the team in Cameroon. Both players failed to show up for the competition despite being included in a 28-man squad. Both players did not honour the invitation to the national team after their clubs refused to release them.
The Saudi Arabian club Ighalo plays for were adamant about their position. Al-Shabab insisted that the invitation came in late and stuck to their guns about releasing the player for the competition. Watford also took advantage of the loophole and refused to release Emmanuel Dennis for the competition.
Despite the mistake by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Eguavoen was unimpressed with the attitude shown by the players. He agreed with the clubs’ decision but opined that Ighalo and Dennis did not show enough desire.
Showing fight and desire
Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis have come out after their club refused to release them for the tournament to wish the Super Eagles well in Cameroon.
In a comment made at the pre-match press conference ahead of Nigeria’s opening game against Egypt on January 11, Eguavoen expressed respect for people’s opinions but maintained there are regulations governing the release of players.
Eguavoen, however, insists it comes down to the player's desire. The coach claims that the players had to fight for it. The former Super Eagles defender said it was not a new trend and claims they fought against it too as players.
Eguavoen concluded that playing for the country was an honour and a privilege.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 weeks ago