Tunisia ’94 Africa Cup of Nations winner Thompson Oliha has asked Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi to exclude the foreign-based players who turned in below-par performances in last Saturday Group F World Cup qualifier against Kenya from next match.
Italy-based Nnamdi Oduamadi grabbed a last-gasp equaliser after Francis Kahata swung a devastating free kick past Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the first-half to help the Eagles share the spoils with their lowly opponents at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar.
Chelsea’s Victor Moses, Seattle Sounders’ Obafemi Martins and Dynamo Kyiv’s Brown ideye were guilty of spurning decent chancesn in the clash.
Speaking with our correspondent on the telephone during the week, Oliha, who would not name names, believed some of the top pros thought the encounter would be a walk in the park, hence their carefree approach.
“Our players were complacent,” he said.
“We didn’t play as well as we could do and you get punished in such an encounter.
“Some of our top foreign-based players must take blame for our poor performance against the Harambee Stars. I won’t name names, but many Nigerians know those I’m referring to.
“They played as if there was nothing at stake. In fact, they were not serious about the game.
“It’s a shame we started the match slowly only to take the encounter seriously when the Kenyans appeared to be heading home with the three points at stake.”
The Algiers ’90 Africa Cup of Nations silver medallist urged the Eagles to learn from their mistakes in the clash and approach the remaining games like cup finals.
“We should go to Nairobi for the second leg (in June) with the aim of winning the game,” Oliha said.
“We nearly lost the game in Calabar because our players thought the Harambee Stars would be scared of them, and the fact that we have always beaten them.
“We must not underestimate any team, because there are no longer minnows in football.”
The versatile former Iwuanyanwu Nationale player urged Keshi to build his team around the domestic league players, saying they are more committed than some of their foreign-based counterparts.
“The home boys gave a good account of themselves in the match and we all saw it,” the ex-Africa Sport and Antalyaspor star said.
“The domestic league players shouldn’t feel inferior to the foreign-based players. Football is the same everywhere.
“I was making the first-team as a domestic league player, and the only difference between me and the overseas-based professionals was that they had more money than me.”
However, he backed the team to recover from their setback and improve in future matches.