Manager Gernot Rohr has begun to slowly build his team to represent Nigeria during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Without the benefit of international friendlies, it appears that Rohr will rely on tactical preparation and not necessarily on a new crop of players to take Nigeria through to the World Cup. Only three of Rohr's current invitees arrive without ever playing for Nigeria's senior team (see Table 1).
With the NFF claiming financial difficulties, Rohr is also unable to engage in a long drawn camp for local players. Instead, he is relying mostly on accomplished internationals based outside the country. However, most of those players cut their teeth playing for either elite or youth clubs in Nigeria.
Our focus in this article is to identify each player's last Nigerian club before heading overseas to play professionally. This exercise points to continued importance of home grown players in the process of unearthing talents for Nigeria's national team. These players are initiated to elite competition through Nigerian youth football or through elite Nigerian clubs, and such competitions serve as beginning point before additional polishing in professional clubs outside the country.
One result from the data is the growing number of national team players who never played youth or club football in Nigeria. Table 1 shows that 6 of 24 players fall into this category. This is a category that was non-existent or had very few players barely a decade or two ago. Also notable, is that another 5 of 24 never played elite club football in Nigeria before a professional career in Europe. So essentially, 11 or 46% of the recently invited players never played top flight club football in Nigeria. Obviously, this is a further confirmation of a trend widely acknowledged in the country's football.