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AFCON Qualifier: NFF, Oliseh Disagree Over Players’ Invitation

Head coach of the Nigeria national soccer team, Sunday Oliseh, may be heading on a collision course with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over his decision to allot what is considered a small percentage to home-based professionals in his proposed list of invited players for next month’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match away to Tanzania. Investigation revealed that Oliseh, unlike his predecessor Stephen keshi who gave the home-based players ample opportunities during his first time in charge, has chosen to invite 18 foreign- based professionals and only five home-based players for the September 6 assignment in Dar Es Salam.

A source at the NFF, who did not want his name in print because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said the Technical Committee of the soccer body had frowned at the quota allotted the home-based players and as such asked Oliseh to tinker with the list, which would be made public very soon “The argument was that starting with this kind of team composition will not give the home-based players confidence that they can compete with their foreign-based colleagues on equal footing,” said the source.

“That is why he is being urged to consider the invitation of more players from the domestic league.” The would-be invited foreign-based professionals, it was learnt, would fly directly to Tanzania, where they will team up with the Oliseh-led coaching crew and the Nigeria Professional Football league players. Oliseh, it was revealed, will arrive Nigeria from his Belgium base on August 14, while invited home-based players will converge in Abuja two days later to commence build-up to the game in Dar Es Salam, with those who impress the coaches making the final squad to Tanzania.

Ibe’s International Switch Meanwhile Oliseh and his assistant, Jean Francois Losciuto, reportedly visited Liverpool player Jordon Ibe on Wednesday to persuade him to play for Nigeria and not England at full international level. Oliseh was at the Melwood training ground to discuss with Ibe, a Londoner by birth, who has represented England at various age-grade levels but would also qualify to play for the Super Eagles because his father, David, is a Nigerian.

Under FIFA’s so-called “One Time Switch” policy, players are able to play   for one country at the youth international level, and another as a senior, provided the player make the switch before their 21st birthday and before having made a competitive senior level appearance. Unless England manager Roy Hodgson decides to call up the young winger soon, Ibe will have plenty of time to ponder any possible switch as he does not turn 21 until December 5, 2016.

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