Garba Lawal: Nigeria can cope without missing players against Ukraine


The former Super Eagles player expects the new selections to justify their invitation to the national team on Tuesday

Former Super Eagles midfielder Garba Lawal has played down the series of withdrawals from the Nigeria squad ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against Ukraine in Dnipro. 

Captain Ahmed Musa last Thursday became the latest high-profile name to pull out of the Super Eagles’ roster for the game against the Eastern European side.

He joined the likes of defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Tyronne Ebuehi, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and forward Henry Onyekuru who had earlier opted out for varying reasons.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, the former Nigeria international believes the remaining players are capable of holding their own against Andriy Shevchenko’s men

“I don’t think there is anything to worry about the players that are are not available, it just simply means the new players have the opportunity to show the coach what they can do,” Lawal stated.

“If these players say there were retiring, we can not force them not to do so but they are just not available for a game so we should utilise the players that are available.

“I am happy with the choice of Ukraine, I don’t think we have played them before but they are a strong team that should give our boys a good test.”

Ukraine are rated 25th on the Fifa rankings while Nigeria are eight spots below in 33rd spot. 

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Meanwhile, Lawal who is a staunch AC Milan fan also stated he is happy to see a club legend in Shevchenko handling a national team but he was quick to add that being a success as a player does not guarantee the same as a manager.

“It is good to see someone that has played the game moving up to be the coach of the national team but you know playing and coaching are two different things but I wish Shevchenko the best on the job,” the Atlanta 96 football gold medallist added.

The Ukraine friendly is the first outing for the three-time African champions Nigeria since they finished third at the first-ever 24–team Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt in June/July this year.

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