“I don’t have a bench to work right now. In the past one year, Nigeria has used 62 players in our 10 or 11 matches .I don’t have those I can say these are the players to form the core of my team. If I have say six of such players, I can then say these are the core of my team and start to build on it.”
--- Coach Sunday Oliseh.
Fact checking the statement above became necessary as it stuck out. To be sure, Oliseh was not criticizing previous coaches. He was just stating what he believed was fact and it was an answer to a question about who Nigeria’s core players are. However, since then some have questioned why a Nigerian coach should have used 62 players in a single year! We decided to check the facts on this. Below are the results.
1 FACT: Nigeria did in fact use over 60 players in a single year. That is a fact. This occurred in 2014 under Stephen Keshi. However, it should be noted that this count includes home-based players who were involved in CHAN competition and essentially the coach was managing two national teams. The actual count of players who played in non-related CHAN games was 37 in the year, which involved 22 games. He used 36 each in years 2012 and 2013 with his first team and totals of 55 and 47 in those two years respectively (Including those involved in strictly home-based games) according to my calculation.
2 ADDITIONALLY: We decided to check on a few other things pertaining to player usage. See Table below. We compared average number of players debuted per game by selected Nigerian coaches and found some shocking results. It ranged from a low of 0.86 by Berti Vogts to a high of 4.43 by Daniel Amokachi. However, a note of caution on Amokachi’s stats. He had to coach the team over very different periods. Often the players were based locally, which meant that the coach was forced to use a different set of players across time since the players he used in 2006 were not available to him in 2010 and 2015 because of migrations. Thus, taking away the Amokachi figure, the coaches who used comparatively high debutants are Eguavoen, Chukwu, and Bonfrere in that order.