Moses hasn’t proved his commitment to Eagles yet – Lawal

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He is riding on the crest of a wave after surviving a strenuous preseason to force his way into Chelsea’s first team under Italian manager Antonio Conte.

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Victor Moses appeared to have given up on first-team football at Chelsea following the expiry of his loan deal at West Ham.

The 25-year-old Nigeria winger had also had loan spells at Liverpool and Stoke since his £9m move from Wigan in 2012.

Moses has been hogging the headlines after a string of impressive performances for the Blues – and the player has confirmed he is enjoying his football more than ever.

As the player is having a swell time with the Premier League giants and his stock rising by the game, his commitment to the Super Eagles has been questioned by former Nigeria winger Dimeji Lawal.

Dimeji, who is popularly called Kabongo, says Moses has yet to prove his commitment at the international level because he has not looked happy and excited each time he plays for the national team.

The former Real Madrid B team attacker, who helped the country win silver at both the Canada ’87 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and Saudi ’89 FIFA U-20 World Cup, wants Moses to replicate his club form for the Eagles.

“Moses is a good player. I hate to say this, but he’s not proved his commitment to the national team,” the well-travelled former Kortrijk player said during the week.

“He’s playing well at Chelsea and I’m very happy he has convinced (Chelsea manager) Antonio Conte to retain him at the club and make him a first-team player.

“Moses is just interested in playing for the country to boost his club career; he’s not committed to the national team.”

Dimeji, who missed out on a place in the 22-man Eagles’ squad for the Senegal ’92 Africa Cup of Nations following the injury he sustained in one of the qualifiers, wants Moses to show more commitment to the national team by reproducing his club form for Nigeria in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

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“If he (Moses) is not ready to play for the national team, he should stay with his club to give another player a chance in the Eagles,” the FIFA-licensed players’ agent said.

“Moses should emulate (his Chelsea teammate) Mikel Obi, who is highly committed to the national team.

“It’s unfortunate he ( Nigeria captain Mikel) is not playing for Chelsea at the moment.

“Mikel’s charisma has helped the national team. In fact, he gives everything for the success of the team and deserves commendation, not criticism.

“Coaches see things different from the fans. Chelsea is a competitive club and if Mikel is not good he won’t have been there for 10 years.”

He added, “There are many players who are ready to die on the field to help the national team win matches – and one of them is Kayode Olarenwaju.”

The 23-year-old FK Austria Wien forward has represented Nigeria at the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels.

The former Israel-based attacker, who has attracted interest from German Bundesliga sides Wolfsburg and Schalke 04, has scored three goals for Wien in the Austrian topflight this season.

“Olarenwaju has incredible pace and he is a good finisher. He can play centre and wing. I think he can help the Eagles qualify for the World Cup if invited by the coach (Gernot Rohr).”

Dimeji, whose telepathic understanding with Tunisia ’94 Africa Cup of Nations winner Mutiu Adepoju, free-kick specialist Christopher Ohenhen, Christopher Nwosu and Antony Emoedofu ensured that Nigeria were the first African team to reach the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup since inception in 1977 in Tunisia, is happy with the Eagles’ flying start to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

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Nigeria defeated Zambia’s Chipolopolo 2-1 in their opening Russia 2018 World Cup Group B qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on October 9.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi opened the scoring for the Eagles in the 32nd minute while Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho doubled the Eagles lead 10 minutes later as he latched on a Brown Ideye pass to put Nigeria 2-0 goals up after rounding Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

Veteran striker Collins Mbesuma took advantage of Turkey-based Kenneth Omeruo’s schoolboy error in the Nigerian defence to score Zambia’s goal in the encounter.

Dimeji, who heaped praise on the Eagles over their performance in their first away victory over their Southern African opponents since 1973, however, warns they shouldn’t get carried away by the Ndola win.

“Our players showed great commitment in the encounter and I’m proud of them,” the former Shooting Stars forward said.

“Yes, we made some mistakes, particularly in the defence, but the most important thing is that we won the game.

“The Eagles played the way we expected to play – and our players were committed to the match and won it.”

The former South Africa-based player, whose international career was hampered by persistent injuries, called for Rohr to work on the national team’s defence ahead of their November 12 Russia 2018 qualifier against Algeria in Uyo.

The retired player says new players should be invited to compete against the established players in the team.

He poured the plaudits on Premier League attacking duo Iwobi and Iheanacho for their performances in the game against Chipolopolo.

But he was quick to warn fans and pundits to give the two young players a chance to develop a good partnership in the Eagles’ attack.

Dimeji urged the Eagles to prepare well for their qualifier against Algeria, saying the Desert Foxes would be a hard nut to crack.

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He said, “Algeria will be tougher than Zambia, because they (Desert Foxes) have a team. They have very good attackers – and they are an experienced side.

“(Leicester City duo) Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez are dangerous players. They are both tested and trusted. They perform for their club week in, week out. Our defenders should be ready for them.”

Dimeji added, “Being held to a 1-1 draw by Cameroon at home doesn’t mean Algeria are a bad side. I’m sure something went wrong for them in the encounter.

“They will be aiming for victory against us (in Uyo) because they know that another bad result will be a disaster for them.

“We should correct the mistakes we made in the game against Zambia and go all for victory against them.”

The former BCC Lions star says Nigeria cannot afford to miss out on a place at the 2018 World Cup after the Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

He believes Mikel will certainly play a vital role for the Eagles as they seek to qualify for the World Cup for the sixth time.

Dimeji says the Nigeria captain should not be judged by his lack of playing time at Chelsea at the moment.

He said, “Mikel is not playing at Chelsea not because he’s a bad player. Playing at the Olympics affected him at Chelsea.”

Dimeji added, “It’s unfortunate that some Nigerians are criticising. Some are saying he should be dropped from the Eagles because he’s not playing for his club.

“They are wrong. Mikel played a key role in the victory over Zambia. In the Eagles, every move begins with him.

“The young players, particularly (Alex) Iwobi and (Kelechi) Iheanacho, look up to him. He deserves respect.”

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