Rejection of national call Ekpo blasts Iwobi, Iheanacho


Former international, Friday Ekpo, has lambasted Arsenal forward, Alex Iwobi and Manchester City budding star, Kelechi Iheanacho for rejecting national calls for club engagements.
The Super Eagles’ former midfielder said it’s an insult for players to shun national calls even at the detriment of their career.
Iwobi and Iheanacho suddenly put the Dream Team manager, Samson Siasia, under severe pressure when they shunned the call for Nigeria’s Olympic preparations, owing to club commitments.
“We can understand why the two players had to behave in such manners. They are still fresh and keenly monitored by their clubs, especially when Manchester City is engaged by a new manager. Arsene Wenger is also girding his loins towards building a formidable team for a new season and with the Nigerian in his agenda, I will not blame any player.
“But their absence won’t pull down the team. Nobody can force them if they are not prepared psychologically to play for Nigeria. The clubs meet their needs. They can die for their clubs, but not for Nigeria. I don’t think their absence would make a difference because there are other players, who are also hungry for success,” he said.
Ekpo said that with hard work and determination, the team would live up to the billing. He advised the coach not to fully rely on foreign-based players, as they may disappoint him any time.
He said that with his experience, Siasia could close his eyes and rebuild the team around the available players, who have been showing promises in the squad, especially on their training tour.
“Siasia’s team always has the tendency to perform well in any international outing. He knows what to do to get the best and make use of available resources at his disposal. He never complains because he knows where he’s going. He’s used to the unpleasant condition.
“Siasia strategised well to win Olympic silver medal in China with the support of his Dutch friend, Simon Kalika. He has been there before and he knows how to handle the situation. He is a goal-getter,” Ekpo remarked.
Also expressing optimism on the Dream Team’s chances in Rio, the former under-20 striker, Monday Odiaka, hammered Iwobi and Iheanacho, saying they would regret their actions in future.
Odiaka said it’s always the case during the Olympic era as most clubs in Europe don’t always like to release players for the fiesta.
“The trend is not always with one particular team. It is a common thing across the world – the club versus country issue. It is a big problem between the football federation and the clubs involved. I think, on this issue, there should be an understanding.”