Former Super Eagles midfielders Garba Lawal and Mutiu Adepoju have said the recall of Torino midfielder Joel Obi to the national team would add more strength to the team ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Eagles coach Gernot Rohr on Wednesday released his 28-man squad for Nigeria’s friendly matches against Poland and Serbia ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The Eagles face Poland in Wroclaw on March 23 before travelling to London to play Serbia four days later.
Obi, who last featured for the Eagles in 2014, was recalled by Rohr after four years in the international wilderness. Before his snub by the national team coaches, Obi, who has only played in the Serie A, has made a total of 15 appearances for the Super Eagles and is yet to register a goal.
The 26-year-old, who had a blistering start to his career at Inter Milan but was hampered by injuries, has continued his good form for Torino this season. Injury saw him missing the first half of the season 2015/16.
But a return from injury since the start of the 2017/18 season has seen him score four goals in the Serie A in 15 appearances for the club. Obi will be looking to make Rohr’s final 23-man list for the World Cup squad with a good showing in the friendlies.
Lawal and Adepoju, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said Rohr did well to recall Obi as well as invite Junior Ajayi and Locomotiv Plovdiv defender Stephen Eze.
Al Ahly forward Ajayi’s impressive showing in Egypt earned him his first call-up to the senior team while Eze, who was one of the top performers for the home-based Eagles at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco, was also given an opportunity to fight for a place in the team.
Lawal said Obi’s return to the team would give Rohr more options for flexibility in the midfield.
“The invitation of Joel Obi by the coach is a good one because we have always clamoured for players to be invited based on their current form and their performances at their clubs. Obi has been consistent for his club now and he is playing every week, which is good for the national team,” he said.
“Having such players in the team will give Rohr more options in the midfield and allow for more flexibility. It also allows him to see the players in different formations he may wish to use for his matches. He has invited the players he believes can help the country and I think that is good for the team.
“The other new players called up to the team have also been given the chance to prove themselves worthy of the team. They are also doing well at their clubs and that is also good for the team. Active players at club levels are always beneficial to the national team.”
For Adepoju, Obi’s return would not be a threat to any of the other midfielders in the team.
He said, “Obi is an attacking midfielder and there are other attacking midfielders in the team before he returned. I don’t believe he would threaten the position of any of the other players in the team.
“They would all have their opportunities to impress the coach and stake their claim on the team to the World Cup. More so, every player is good in different roles, which largely depends on the formation to be played by the coach. Obi’s return would only give more options to the coach rather than threaten the place of any of the other midfielders in the team.”