Super Eagles: Who’s Likely to be on the plane to Russia?

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Roll out the reverence and adulation, Nigeria have just seen off a world super power. Argentina might not seem as formidable as they should these days, might not have qualified for the FIFA World Cup with ease, and this might even be a friendly, but to come from two down and win so convincingly is never something to be overlooked, hence Gernot Rohr and his charges deserve much credit for their exploits in Krasnodar.

All that’s left now is for the Eagles to stand proudly, dust and pack their bags, and, in between a few more friendlies in March and before the mundial, start heading to Russia come June 2018. Just one slight problem though: there’s only room for 23 players on that plane.

Here is a breakdown of players likely to make the cut assuming everyone stays injury free, and those likely to face the disappointment of missing out:

GOALKEEPERS

So much has been made in a few days – weeks and months even – about the potential return of veteran shot-stopper Vincent Enyeama into the fold. That might not be the smartest idea, but at the moment the rest in goal aren’t doing much in terms of convincing; Ikechukwu Ezenwa wasn’t assuring in goal against Algeria on Friday, while Daniel Akpeyi managed to be even less so in Krasnodar, in a game where 19-year-old Francis Uzoho made his debut for the Eagles. With Carl Ikeme not likely to return for the mundial in Russia next summer, you wouldn’t bet against those three being the names going to the big stage, especially if those Enyeama speculations amount to nothing. Dele Alampasu might also have a say, but looks likely to miss out, particularly if Uzoho continues getting significant game time at club level.

Likely to make the cut:
Daniel Akpeyi
Ikechukwu Ezenwa
Francis Uzoho

DEFENCE

Barring an unfortunate injury, there’s no reason why Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong’s solid partnership won’t be showcased in Russia, although Rohr seemingly opted for a back three against La Albiceleste shows he might be open to adaptions, not impossible; but unlikely. Shehu Abdullahi looks a dead-cert for a place in the squad as well, making the right-back his own since the Cameroon double header, although Ola Aina, currently in a not-so familiar left-back role, will be looking to cash in on any slips, as well as the up and coming Tyronne Ebuehi. Aina looks defensively capable on the left side of defence, especially against Algeria, although the unfamiliarity curbed his attacking play to an extent, and there’s a certain Elderson Echiejile on the verge of recovery (pause for the hisses of disdain). With Balogun and Troost-Ekong making the centre back berths their own, the likes of Awaziem Chidozie, Uche Agbo, Brian Idowu and Kenneth Omeruo will hope for places as understudies at best, even if the latter’s ability to play in more than one defensive position could be his ace in the hole.

Likely to make the cut:

Leon Balogun
William Troost-Ekong
Ola Aina
Elderson Echiejile
Shehu Abdullahi
Awaziem Chidozie
Kenneth Omeruo

MIDFIELDERS

The leadership displayed by John Obi Mikel is just about unrivaled, while Wilfred Ndidi looks indispensable, at both club and international level. Ogenyi Onazi is another fancied by many, fans and past managers alike, while John Ogu, is a valuable tool in Rohr’s arsenal. Mikel Agu looks like his best case scenario is the bench at the moment, while Oghenekaro Etebo will feel he should be doing a better job of staking a claim for himself in terms of a place in the side. Chidiebere Nwakali might just be unlucky here.

Likely to make the cut:

John Obi Mikel
Wilfred Ndidi
Ogenyi Onazi
John Ogu
Oghenekaro Etebo
Mikel Agu

Attack:

Know that popular Nigerian- Lagos- trait, traffic jam? Perhaps it feels appropriate here, a crowded area, where everyone hopes to steal a march on each other. Still, there are some who seem odds on to make it to Russia. Victor Moses, once fit, should be a name that easily rolls off the tongue in terms of selection. His namesake, Moses Simon, isn’t quite as assured of a place as the Chelsea man, but Simon has been impressive for a while, and a place in the squad for the World Cup is not unlikely. Another player that looks a certainty is Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, whose performances are growing, epitomized by his stellar showing against Argentina. Kelechi Iheanacho is another with his sights set on the big time, although he’ll need no telling improvements and consistency are much-needed from him, while his club-mate Ahmed Musa needs a winter move to bolster his chances; he still looks a decent bet to be in the squad, but his place is unlikely to be away from the bench with Henry Onyekuru waiting in the wings to pounce. Odion Ighalo is the Eagles most capable forward right now, unfortunately, though, while the likes of Olanrewaju Kayode and Anthony Nwakaeme all appeared in the past few days, Russia 2018 might be too soon for them.

Likely to make the cut:

Odion Ighalo
Victor Moses
Moses Simon
Ahmed Musa
Kelechi Iheanacho
Alex Iwobi

Who do you think should make Gernot Rohr’s 23-man list to Russia? 

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1 Comment

  1. i will love to see onyekuru in the starting 11. but who will he bench ? iwobi, ighalo and moses are definetely our best front 3. Iwobi or kelechi. i’m not too sure.

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