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Former Real Madrid B star tells Peseiro to snub Lookman, Aribo, Bassey and trust Osimhen, Iheanacho, Ndidi for AFCON

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Nigeria will be among the favourites to win the continental championship when Africa’s best teams meet in Ivory Coast in January

Former Nigeria international Dimeji Lawal believes that Jose Peseiro’s Super Eagles will be successful if he trusts players born in the country, Soccernet.ng reports.

The Super Eagles squad is a fine mixture of Nigeria-born and overseas-born professionals, with many of them playing in Europe.

Nigeria have one of the best attacks in world football, with the country boasting the likes of Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, Umar Sadiq, Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Terem Moffi, who were all born in Nigeria.

However, Ademola Lookman, Joe Aribo, Nathan Tella, Ola Aina, and Semi Ajayi were born in England, while Calvin Bassey’s place of birth was Italy.

Lawal believes Super Eagles stars born in Nigeria often show more seriousness and commitment to the national cause than their overseas-born counterparts.

While knocking Peseiro for not having a solid team ahead of the AFCON, the former Real Madrid B midfielder is convinced that the Super Eagles can still impress in Ivory Coast should the Portuguese head coach rely more on serious and more determined Nigeria-born stars.

“I am not happy with Super Eagles’ preparation for the 2024 AFCON, which will start just next month,” Lawal told the Guardian.

“The coach is still inviting overseas-born players for different games.

“That a player is performing well in the English League, German Bundesliga, or Spanish La Liga does not mean the player will be outstanding at the AFCON. It is a different championship meant for tough players.

“Kanu Nwankwo, who was the best in Europe during his days, could not score at the AFCON throughout his career as a footballer. This shows how tough the AFCON competition is.

“Players like Victor Osimhen, Chukwueze, Ndidi, Iheanacho, and others who grew up in Nigeria and played in our domestic football system understand the seriousness and how to approach games with African teams.

“A player that does not have attachment to Nigeria cannot go the extra mile to get positive result.

“How many times have you heard that a foreign-born Nigerian player gets injured playing for the country? We need serious, selfless, and committed players to win AFCON.

“You cannot expose overseas-born Nigerian players to the scorching sun of Africa and expect good results. What happened in the Zimbabwe and Lesotho World Cup qualifiers is a clear testimony of what I am saying. Nations Cup is not for players that lack patriotic zeal and commitment to die on the pitch to achieve results for the country.”

Nigeria have been drawn together with hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau in the group stage of the AFCON.

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