Coach Gernot Rohr has picked 24 players for the Super Eagles first competitive match for 2020. No thanks to cornonavirus, the last time the Super Eagles played a competitive match was November 2019. With and Without due and undue respect to Sierra Leone, the Super Eagles should be making light work of the double-header. The team should all but come out of the fixtures with a ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations, whenever and wherever it holds, Cameroon 2022 for now.
For the purpose of what the team will look like going to the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers due to begin next year, we take a look at the chosen 24. Note, there may still be substitutions depending on availability and injuries.
Daniel Akpeyi returns, he is joined by Maduka Okoye and Sebastian Okoye, who is called up for the first time. Only Okoye survives from the four goalkeepers in camp for the last friendlies. He was in goal in the two friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia, and he was impressive. It won’t be surprising if he keeps his place against Sierra Leone.
Akpeyi always finds a way back in the team, he was in goal for the first two AFCON qualifiers, after he had earlier been dropped after the 2019 AFCON. The most experienced goalkeeper in the team could also be in line for a start.
Sebastian Osigwe gets his first invite after some strings of impressive performances with Lugano in the Swiss League. He may not get the chance to be in goal in the matches, he could do enough in training to earn future call-ups.
The teams seems to be spoiled for option in defence. William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Semi Ajayi, Kelvin Akpoguma are the center-backs. Troost-Ekong and Balogun are expected to start at the haert of the defence, considering Troost-Ekong’s consistency and Balogun’s performance in the last friendlies. The likes of Ajayi, Akpoguma and Awaziem may have to feature elsewhere to get any playing time.
Zaidu Sanusi might keep Jamilu Collins on the bench again at left-back, after the Porto defender impressed in the last friendlies.
Tyronne Ebuehi is listed as a midfielder, but he should be vying to start at right-back ahead of Ola Aina, Awaziem and Akpoguma. Ebuehi is expected to start to add more to the attack.
The team looks light in midfield and the midfield seems to pick itself. Joe Aribo and Oghenekaro Etebo should form the midfield pivot, playing together for the first time. Rohr could play Ajayi in midfield again, alongside one of the two but it is unlikely. Alexander Iwobi seems to have tied down the spot as the attacking midfielder.
Frank Onyeka is the other midfielder in the team but he was disappointing in the last friendly. The Midjtyland midfielder has gotten another chance due to Wilfred Ndidi’s absence and must take any chance he gets with both hands.
The team is also spoiled for choices in attack. Victor Osimhen should start as center-forward with Kelechi Iheanacho playing back-up.
Only two of Samuel Chukwueze, Ahmed Musa, Chidera Ejuke, Emmanuel Dennis and Moses Simon will start. It will likely be Chukwueze on the right and Simon on the left. Ejuke showed a glimpse of quality in the few minutes he played in the last friendly match and could get get a chance to impress. Dennis has also not gotten many chances and will be lucky to get one this time. Musa is presently in the team despite being unattached probably because he is the captain, he might be called up if it gets tricky and his pace and experience is needed.
No matter who plays, as stated earlier, the matches are auditions for a place in the team. Considering some other players are warming up to get into the team, there is little margin for error