Rohr’s list shows his intent: victory

Members of the Super Eagles getting ready for their last training session before a friendly match

There are not too many times where there are no complaints concerning a released list. There’s no stray name from Malta or Vietnam, or huge question marks over the form of a certain player whose call up is unjustifiable.

Thankfully, Victor Moses is not injured for this one and Captain Mikel Obi now in fine fettle, makes a return. The Tianjin TEDA midfielder was sidelined for four months with an abdominal injury. The midfield trio of Ogenyi Onazi, Wilfred Ndidi and Ogenekharo Etebo lacked coordination, effective ball management and incisive passing from deep in the game against South Africa.

The midfield was flat and for all of Etebo’s bustle there was a distinct lack of a calming presence in the midfield. Mikel’s brief would be to fix that and also weigh in on the leadership aspect that seems lacking throughout the squad.

With Alex Iwobi shunted out wide closer to the touch line than to the central areas, the Arsenal midfielder couldn’t have an impact on the game of leaving Iheanacho isolated. Times he got the ball in space he was not enterprising with it. Simon Moses was more direct, running into blind alleys and turning over possession when he got on the ball against the Bafana Bafana.

Victor Moses inclusion improves the quality on the wings, though at Chelsea he is a wingback these days,  it won’t take extensive re-engineering before we get his winger version. Against a sturdy Cameroonian side, Moses’ trickery and intelligence on the wings could help stretch the defence and open pockets of spaces for others to exploit.

Installing Kelechi Iheanacho as the centre forward against a roughshod gritty backline of Adolphe Teikeu, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui could prove abortive. The striker endured a frustrating evening last time he was in the colours of the Super Eagles largely isolated, it also looked counterintuitive to the Leicester City forward to drop deeper for interchanges as he looked insistent on playing on the shoulder of the last defender.

Also the 20-year-old is just coming off a toe injury with only eight minutes of competitive football under his belt in the new European season.

New face, Anthony Nwakaeme lit up the Israeli league last season and has continued in his rich vein of scoring form in the UEFA Champions League qualifier. Throwing him in the deep end from the get-go will be brazen, of course, he could go on to prove his mettle but a more measured choice for the Centre Forward position would be Odion Ighalo.
Ighalo has hit some form of purple patch in the Chinese Super league scoring nine goals in his last nine games for Changchung Yatai. Also being a bit of a known quality, the striker with 12 Super Eagles appearances wouldn’t need much “bedding-in” time.

The former Watford striker could translate his goal rush at his club to the Super Eagles.

The goalkeeping department though is another kettle of fish. It has had extensive issues since Vincent Enyeama hung his international gloves. There was a bit of respite when Carl Ikeme was between the sticks but it was short lived when news of Ikeme’s leukaemia filtered through. Daniel Akpeyi looked way less than assured as the last line of defence against South Africa in the 2-0 loss at Uyo. Akpeyi is rumoured to be the third choice goalkeeper at his club, Chippa United in the PSL in South Africa.

In a bid to improve the quality of goalkeeping in the Super Eagles an expatriate goalkeeper trainer was hired and has resumed duties. Enrico Pionneti has worked with Dele Alampasu, a second choice goalkeeper at Portuguese club Feirense. It is the same old faces but FC Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper is most likely to man the posts in the fixture, following his penalty stopping display against Benin in the African Nations Championship qualifiers.

The Super Eagles squad list looks formidable but the onus lies on Gernot Rohr to figure the best pick off 11 players, who will play with their hearts and quality to defeat the Indomitable Lions.

Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC, Portugal)

Defenders: William Ekong (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sivasspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes FC, France); Ola Aina (Hull City, England)

Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda, China); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Mikel Agu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Anthony Nwakaeme (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)

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