Sequel to the outcry from all stakeholders and in line with its avowed policy of shutting age cheats out of its under-aged national teams, all earlier invited players from the Nigerian Premier League have been dropped from the second phase closed camping of the Golden Eaglets, the Nigeria Football Federation has said.
Players such as Gombe United’s Mustapha Babadidi, Segun Alebiosu of Kwara United amongst others initially listed for the Under-17 team have now been blacklisted, in spite of earlier claims by the team handlers that they were within the stipulated age bracket.
The Nigeria Football Federation Director, Technical, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, who is in Calabar for the smooth take-off of the closed camping exercise, said the shut-out order of Premier League players from the Golden Eaglets is imperative.
Ikpeme noted that this is a positive development and should be seen as a genuine effort on the part of the NFF at developing new stars as well as the federation’s commitment at eradicating age cheating.
The 40 players selected for the closed camping exercise were drawn from those that took part in the first phase screening exercise last March.
Top on the list of players already camped at the posh Princeville Hotel camp is Muazzam Ibrahim, who has been tagged the ‘New Kanu’ by Supervising Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, when he played an unscheduled visit to the team’s screening exercise at the FIFA Goal Project Package B Site in Abuja.
Also included are players from the National Under-15 team, top-rated youth tournaments such as the Shell Cup and Copa Coca-Cola as well as players from soccer academies scattered all over the country.
Officials maintain that this second phase closed camping is strictly for invited players to enable them demonstrate their abilities as the team intensifies efforts to represent the country in the forthcoming African Under-17 Youth Championship to be hosted in Morocco next year.
And with over 30 players already in camp, the Golden Eaglets effectively began their training sessions at the practising pitch of the U.J. Esuene Stadium under the close supervision of Assistant Coach, Nduka Ugbade, and goalkeepers’ trainer, Emeka Amadi.
The players were taken through their paces in what could be regarded as a light workout in order to prepare their mind for the challenges ahead.