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VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Gernot Rohr, Manager of Nigeria gives his team instructions during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Iceland at Volgograd Arena on June 22, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Coach Gernot Rohr has again defended his decision not to invite more locally-based players into the Super Eagles fold, stating that it’s difficult for players in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to break into the national team, AOIFootball.com reports.

The Franco-German called up only four NPFL players in his 23-man squad for the games against Seychelles and Egypt but however posited that the chances of the locally-based players of making the AFCON squad remain slim because of the poor conditions of the league.

“I can tell you that it’s not easy for the local players to make it to the Super Eagles when you see the conditions.

“They have to play in old astroturf, in a championship which is playing for six or seven months. How do you want them to be fit and be able to compete with players in Europe who have the best conditions for training, playing, organization and health,” Rohr said.

He, however, added that with improved infrastructure in the NPFL, the trend might change, whilst also blaming the players’ hurriedness to run to Europe for money once they get invited as another reason why they fall short of playing for the Super Eagles.

“You’ve seen that we have four of them now because I invited two from U-20; the captain (Ikouwem Udoh) and the best defender (Valentine Ozornwafor). But you know each time we invite somebody (home-based player), a few weeks later, he is in Europe. So he is no more a local player.

“Since I’ve been here for two and a half years, I’ve invited more than 22 local players but all of them are now abroad. And every time we start inviting again, and everyone wants to come because it is the way to go to Europe to make money, which is normal.

“But they need better infrastructure here. Imama Amapakabo and I agreed that he worked so many years here in the clubs. The infrastructures, the training conditions, the organization, the big transport, the high distances and all these things including the organization of the league; not playing for six months, is very difficult for the local players,” Rohr said.

The former Gabonese coach could hand debuts to the trio of Valentine Ozornwafor, Ndifreke Effiong, and Ikouwem Udoh when Nigeria files out against Seychelles and Egypt.

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