Ahmed Musa would not be in action when Nigeria takes on Sao Tome and Principe in the final AFCON qualifier at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo Akwa-Ibom.
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has seen his popularity and influence in the national team dwindle over the last few years.
Although no one can fault Musa’s contributions to the national side over the last decade, it seems the time has finally come for him to say his goodbyes.
Ahmed Musa has already achieved a lot with the Super Eagles.
He was part of late coach Stephen Keshi’s team that won the AFCON in 2013.
Not only that, but he has also joined an elite list of players like Joseph Yobo and Vincent Enyeama in reaching a century of caps for the Super Eagles – the icing on the cake is that he is the record holder for the most appearance in a Super Eagles shirt having amassed 109 caps till date.
To win his 109th cap, 30-year-old Ahmed Musa was introduced as a 93rd-minute substitute when Nigeria played Guinea Bissau in March. He barely kicked a ball before the referee blew the final whistle.
The ex-CSK Moscow forward, who was once a darling of fans of the Super Eagles, scored two glorious goals against Argentina at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and bagged a brace against Iceland at the 2018 World Cup.
However, he has since fallen out of favour with Nigerian soccer fans who vehemently protested against his call-up during Nigeria’s last AFCON qualifier against Sierra Leone.
That being said, let’s delve into possible reasons why Ahmed Musa was excluded from the Super Eagles squad to battle Sao Tome and Principe this weekend.
1. Ahmed Musa’s lack of game time for club and country
The former Leicester City forward has endured a torrid time for club and country and has seen very little playing time in recent years.
In the entire 2022/2023 season, Ahmed Musa played just 427 minutes of league football and just over 2,000 minutes of league football in the last two seasons combined.
Ahmed Musa started three matches for his club side, Sivasspor in the entire 2022/2023 season, recording zero shots on goal, and has only started just one game this 2023/2024 season, featuring in the 1-1 draw to Samsunspor back in mid-August.
During Nigeria’s last AFCON qualifier, Ahmed Musa was an unused substitute in the game against the Leone Stars.
Judging from the aforementioned, there is absolutely no need to keep inviting a player who doesn’t get game time at his club side to feature for the national team.
2. Give room to younger players
In the last couple of years, Nigeria has not been short of options, especially in the attacking third.
Players like Gift Orban, Terem Moffi, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Victor Boniface have been banging in the goals in their respective club sides and rightly deserve a chance in the Super Eagles set-up.
While some may argue that Ahmed Musa brings a lot of leadership experience to the team, his persistent call-up will hinder the growth of other better attackers who play week-in, week-out for their respective clubs in Europe.
Coach Jose Peseiro was right in handing an invitation to uncapped players like Victor Boniface and Gift Orban, who are the future of the national side alongside established players like Victor Osimhen.
3. Nigeria already qualified
Ahmed Musa has become a peripheral player for the national side and is also a benchwarmer for his Turkish Super Lig club side Sivasspor.
It makes absolutely no sense to keep inviting a player who contributes almost nothing to the national side when other young and hungry players who are in their prime are being denied a chance to represent their fatherland.
Nigeria has already qualified for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Cote D’Ivoire and coach Peseiro should be in the hunt for young players who will serve the country for long.
Ahmed Musa has enjoyed a glittering career with the Super Eagles and is well-respected for all his contributions to the national side but like they say – all good things come to an end.
I believe the time has come for Ahmed Musa to call it quits with the Super Eagles, as he no longer brings much to the national side. The coaches have to communicate this to him and organise a ceremonial match in his honour.
The Sivasspor forward has seen it all; he’s won the African Cup of Nations and played at the FIFA World Cup – in fact, he scored a brace in two consecutive World Cups.
What more could he ask for?