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  Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Nigeria reject European stars
Nwankwo Kanu in action for his club, English Premiership side Arsenal
Nwankwo Kanu's absence is still a mystery
Super Eagles coach Christian Chukwu says he is going to build a new Nigerian side with home-based players rather than relying on overseas stars.

Chukwu was left struggling at the weekend when his first choice midfielders failed to turn up for the Nations Cup qualifier against Angola in Luanda.

He had to reorganise his side and play attackers out of position in midfield roles after Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha did not show up.

"We invited people to fit each position," said Chukwu after the game.

"If Kanu was here, if Okocha was here, my midfield wouldn't be a problem."


Where we rely entirely on overseas players, you can see the result when most don't come
Nigerian coach Christian Chukwu
"I'm not totally disappointed with the 0-0 draw, but we thought we would get three points. The problem was having to convert attackers into midfielders".

The two midfielders are Nigeria's most experience players.

Aghahowa angered

Okocha said he did not travel because he was injured.

In any case, the former captain said he had retired from international football after the world cup.

However Kanu's absence is a mystery.

Nigeria's makeshift midfield lacked the ability to give decent service to the forwards, to the obvious frustration of newly appointed captain Julius Aghahowa.

"We couldn't play our game," the striker said. "At times I was a little bit furious, but I know that these guys were new to their positions."

Chukwu says he wants to avoid anything similar happening again.

"We should go home and start with the local players. That way I won't have a problem with my midfield.

"The schedule now is to get them, build them and give them international exposure before the next match so that we have a solid home-based team.

"Then, in the positions in which we are lacking, we can look at the foreign-based.

"But where we rely entirely on the overseas players, you can see the result when most of them don't come".

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 ON THIS STORY
Nigeria coach Christian Chukwu
"I'm having to convert attackers into midfielders"

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See also:

08 Sep 02 | Cup of Nations
09 Sep 02 | Cup of Nations
03 Sep 02 | Cup of Nations
Links to more Cup of Nations stories are at the foot of the page.


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