By George Essien
After guiding Nigeria to the last 16 of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon with a game to spare, Super Eagles Interim Coach Augustine Eguavoen, has promised to feature fringe players in the team’s line-up to face Guinea Bissau in their last Group D tie on Wednesday.
The 56-year-old former Enyimba gaffer named an unchanged line-up in back-to-back games against Egypt and Sudan, which Nigeria won 1-0 and 3-1 respectively.
According to the former Nigeria defender, the decision was because he had little time to work with the Super Eagles following the sack of former coach Gernot Rohr less than a month before the commencement of the AFCON.
But having secured qualification to the second round, Eguavoen, who is also the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football federation (NFF), disclosed he will be giving playing opportunities to players like Henry Onyekuru, Peter Olayinka, Tyronne Ebuehi, who are yet to get a feel of the action at the tournament.
“I’ve been long enough with this team as a technical director from afar, but this is the closest I’ve been with the team, which is like three weeks now,” he noted. “And we actually started with quite a number of players, to be precise, four on the 4th of January, and on the 5th we flew out (to Cameroon).
“And we arrive here (Cameroon) nothing happened on the 5th (of January) at night because we retired to bed about 2am, and then preparation started on the 6th and on the 11th we are to be on the field.
“So, that was why when you see the line up in these first two games, it’s a little bit difficult to take risk. It’s better to play with people that know themselves. I can’t say ‘hey you B out, C in, A out’. It would be a bit of a risk. So, that was why we maintained what we had up to this point. And we made it clear to all the players that everybody that has come here has a chance to play.
“Now, coming to the next game (against Guinea Bissau), with qualification secured, with a win in our mind as well, I think we will give a couple of players an opportunity to play.”