Daniel Amokachi's Ideye Brown lesson must be heeded by Gernot Rohr
There are just days to go until Gernot Rohr names his provisional squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia.
Much of Rohr's squad essentially picks itself, and the coach sure knows what at least seventy percent of what his final 23 will look like.
Such knowledge however, still does not seem enough to protect even surefire certainties from being concerned about getting dropped at the last minute.
One player who was in the 2014 squad and should make the cut for the 2018 event, spoke to KweséESPN anonymously, and harked back to four years ago, when striker Brown Ideye was cut from the squad to general astonishment within and outside the team.
"Nobody expected that Brown will not be in the 23-man list," the player said. "We were all shocked.
"So now, nobody can say for sure that they are going to the World Cup, because anything can happen."
Daniel Amokachi, who was assistant coach at the time, told KweséESPN in an exclusive interview that he had no idea how and why Ideye was cut from the squad.
"Brown for me was one player that I regret that we did not take to the World Cup in 2014," Amokachi said, speaking for the first time about the incident that shocked a nation.
"Hundred percent I didn't know how he didn't make that list," he added. "I never saw it coming that he didn't make the list till when the list came out and we found out.
"I think I probably had a lot of fights with some people that I shouldn't have, but it happened because I saw no reason why such a player should be left out.
"We ended up going to the World Cup with players that even me I don't even know."
It is a stunning admission by Amokachi, who went on to suggest that outside influences may have played a part in the striker getting cut in favour of a players like Michael Uchebo and Uche Nwofor, both of whom had a combined total of six international appearances prior to the World Cup.
Four of those combined caps (two each) were in the friendlies just before the squad was named
"I think it is very tough if a coach is already an agent," Amokachi continued. "It is very, very difficult, and that is why I always say you cannot be a coach and be an agent at the same time.
"When the World Cup comes around, you always have a lot of new players showing up," he added. "Players who will decide that they are Nigerians and bring confusion into the team.
"When you find yourself in that situation, you try to advise, because you have agents that will be calling left, right and centre.
"If a coach is an agent, he will fall a victim too. Those are things that we really really need to avoid. There is no room to be trying new players."
These allegations of agent-induced selections have dogged Nigerian football for years, but Amokachi is the first high-profile name to go on record with it, and he says it is a pitfall that Rohr and his coaching staff need to be wary of as they pick their roster for Russia.
"If the coach is a hundred-percent focused as a coach then he needs the best players in the team because he needs results," the ex-striker proceeded. "However, if he is an agent and he has people around him that are agents then there is an issue.
"That is what is happening with our national team today. There are a lot of agents around them and that is probably going to be the only hiccup that the coach will have."
Squad lists, both provisional and final, are usually sent to the NFF's Technical Committee before release to the press and public.
This is the reason why the committee have taken flak for years about their interference in player selections, but NFF Executive Committee member Chris Green, who was chairman of the committee in 2014, says they had no hand in the matter
"I was not a member of the technical crew and I didn't have a hand in that," said Green. "Amokachi was assistant to Stephen Keshi.
"If as assistant to Keshi he did not know how Ideye was dropped, is it the technical committee that should know?"
Ideye himself appears to still be traumatised by the incident, especially because he was given no prior warning and was as blindsided as everyone else
"I don't want to talk about it," he told KweséESPN. "I just saw the names of the players Keshi picked on Twitter.
"Nobody told me the reason Keshi dropped me, and Keshi himself didn't call or text me so I just moved on."
It is a nightmare scenario, and one that continues to give many of the players in the current squad cause for pause, and potential action.
"Right now, everybody is just watching to see what will happen," a player said. "We know those who should be there, and if anybody from outside is coming in, he has to be very much better than those of us who are here now.
"However, we cannot just sit and allow what happened to Ideye last time to happen again."
Could this open the door to a selection showdown between coaches and players?
It's unlikely, with the harmony in the present squad and the relationship between captain Mikel Obi and Rohr, but it's possible that such surprises from left field could be the catalyst for a potential disruption in squad harmony.
Rohr himself seems to have that covered, having reportedly decided to pick a targeted 30 rather than a 35-man provisional squad ahead of next week's deadline.
He'd still do well to heed Amokachi's counsel, and keep his distance from agents while he draws up his roster.