Moffi in, Musa and Akpoguma Out: What Rohr’s Super Eagles List Should Look Like.

In 3, 2, 1… Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr should release his first Super Eagles list for 2021. The Super Eagles round up their AFCON 2022 Qualifiers on the 27th and 30th of this month, with clashes against Benin Republic and Lesotho respectively.

There should be few changes to the Super Eagles

The Super Eagles should qualify. They are top of the table with 8 points from 4 matches. Beyond qualifying, the Super Eagles have points to prove. They won none of their matches last year and particularly made a mess of their last set of qualifiers – a double-header against Sierra Leone.

Rohr has said there won’t be many changes from the last squad, expectedly so. However, there should be some changes. This is the list we expect.

Rohr has said Maduka Okoye of Sparta Rotterdam is the first choice goalkeeper, he should be joined on the list by Sebastien Osigwe of FC Lugano and one of Okechukwu Ezenwa of Heartland or Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs. Francis Uzoho has hardly played this season and should most likely miss out.

Okoye is expected to be first choice goalkeeper

In defence, we should have little changes. Kevin Akpoguma should likely miss out, he has not been playing for Hoffenheim, due to injury. The defenders should be Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, Jamilu Collins, Zaidu Sanusi, Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Semi Ajayi and Kenneth Omeruo.

Rohr’s midfield is always light and that should remain the case, the midfield should have the usual suspects. Ovie Ejaria of Reading might get a first call up. Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Shehu Abdulahi, Frank Onyeka, Joe Aribo and Alex Iwobi should be the midfielders.

There should be only few changes in attack as well. The usual supects should be invited. Samuel Kalu, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, Emmanuel Dennis, Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu. There could be a first call up for Lorient’s Terem Moffi, who Rohr has spoken glowingly about him, he has also been in good form for his Ligue 1 side – Lorient. There could also be a return for Henry Onyekuru, who has gotten better playing time since joining Galatasaray on loan from Monaco. Captain, Ahmed Musa is without a club and has not played in a long time, he should not be on the list. Ejuke Chidera may also miss out because the Russian League just returned from break but considering that he should have had some games under his belt before the end of the month, he could still be on the list.

Captain Ahmed Musa is expected to miss out

In as much as surprises are always expected, there should be little or no changes from the players listed above. Regardless of who is called or not, Nigerians expect nothing but impressive victories from the Super Eagles at the end of the month.

Things We Expect To See In The Super Eagles Friendly Against Tunisia

The Super Eagles double-header friendlies did not particularly get to a good start, with defeat against Algeria on Friday. It was not just about the defeat, but the performance of the Eagles was not encouraging. The brilliant displays we saw in friendlies against Ukraine and Brazil and in the AFCON qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho was not replicated against the Algerians. Cutting Rohr some slack, it was the team’s first match of the year and some key players were missing. However, the same excuses might not suffice if the team performs woefully again against Tunisia. Here are some of the things we hope to see.

Nigeria vs Tunisia: What we hope to see.

Rotation

This is one thing Rohr has never been good at, making use of his squad as much as possible. There were players Rohr invited in the past and barely played, he should not do that here. Especially the likes of Cyril Dessers, Chidera Ejuke, Kevin Akpoguma and Matthew Yakubu, they should be allowed enough playing time for assessment. There might be little or no chance to experiment going forward, considering what is going to be a choked calendar for club and international football.

The same goes for some of the guys that did not play against Algeria, especially the returning ones like Dele Alampasu.

Better Attacking Play

Better attacking play might mean one thing – leaving Paul Onuachu out. As stated in our review of the last match, Onuachu is a target man, he does not suit how the team plays. The team needs a center forward that can interchange quick passes with the wing-forwards and attacking midfield, not one expecting to be fed.

Dessers (r) should be allowed to play.

With the options at his disposal, Rohr should consider starting Kelechi Iheanacho or Ahmed Musa, if he does not trust Dessers enough for a start. It is however important that we see Dessers play, apart from hearing about his goals scoring exploits in the Eredivisie, little is known of him and how he plays, he should be given a chance to show it.

Different midfield mix

Semi Ajayi and Frank Onyeka at the base of the midfield did not work, neither did it fair better when Mikel Agu replaced Onyeka. Ajayi grew into the game in the second half but did not really convince he is suited for a midfield role. Whoever Rohr decides to play, maybe he should consider playing the young Samson Tijani. A cameo appearance in the last match was not enough to assess him. As we saw at U-17 level, he is a midfielder that can dictate the pace of the game, which the Eagles lacked in the first match. He is still young but it is a friendly and he is in the team, if he can’t be tried in a friendly then he should not be in the team.

We have seen Okoye, another goalkeeper please

We have seen Maduka Okoye and based on what we saw in the last match, he is good enough to be in the team. Now let us assess the other two goalkeepers available. Alampasu has had just one substitute appearance for the Super Eagles as far back as 2017. The 2013 U-17 World Cup Golden Glove winner should be given a chance to start. He has barely gotten the chance to show what he can do in the Super Eagles, this is the time.

Okoye has proved himself already

If possible, Matthew Yakubu should also be given a run out. With maybe one or two of Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa expected to return, it won’t be bad to have a large pool of tested and trusted goalkeepers.

After all said, a good result and performance is expected against Tunisia. it will help the team build some confidence ahead of their next competitive match in November.

Four Lessons We Learnt From The Super Eagles Defeat To Algeria

It is no longer news that the Super Eagles lost against the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a friendly match played in Austria. The scoreline aside, it was not the best of performances we have seen since Gernot Rohr took over. Cutting the team some slack, it was their first match in 2020 and some key players were also absent. Regardless, the coaching crew must have learnt some lessons from the match. Here are some lessons we learnt.

The starting XI against Algeria

Okoye is good to go

The goalkeeping area has been suspect in the team for some time. With Maduka Okoye’s performance against the Algerians, the future is looking bright. The young shot stopper had a nervy start but he grew into the game and made some brilliant stops.

Okoye was brilliant

Together with Francis Uzoho, we might have two young goalkeepers to man the post for a long time.

Ndidi, Etebo and Aribo can rest easy

The aforementioned trio are all expected to return to the team when they are available. Their places are secured and they don’t need to worry, considering the performances of the midfielders that deputised for them.

Frank Onyeka had a terrible debut performance and was shaky throughout, till he was hauled off at halftime.

Semi Ajayi got better in the second half but showed he is better as a center-back. The midfield could barely put anything together in the absence of Aribo, Ndidi and Etebo.

Onuachu probably not good enough

Paul Onuachu has been in very good form for his club KRC Genk but on the evidence of what we saw on Friday, he may not be good enough for the Super Eagles.

Onuachu failed another audition

He has hardly had any good game for the Super Eagles since he scored in a friendly against Egypt in 2018. He is not fast enough and does not link up play well. He could not link up well with the wing-forwards and midfield. The team is not suited for a target man. It is high time Rohr tries something else in the absence of Victor Osimhen.

Rohr remains conservative

With the Super Eagles trailing, the changes Rohr made were too direct and kind of conservative. The more defensive Moses Simon came on for the injured Samuel Kalu and offered little in attack. A center-back Kevin Akpoguma replaced Tyronne Ebuehi at right-back.

It is just a friendly and Rohr could have been more ingenious with his changes against the Algerians that were also not on top of their game.

Unfortunately, we are not the ones hired by the NFF to manage the Super Eagles. However, we hope lessons have been learnt and the team will do better going forward, starting with the next friendly against Tunisia.

Four Things To Look Forward To In The Super Eagles vs Algeria Friendly

It seems like forever since we last saw the Super Eagles play, no thanks to coronavirus. It has made the Super Eagles double-header friendlies against The Desert Foxes of Algeria and The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia all the more important. Interestingly, these two were the Super Eagles last opponents at the last African Cup of Nations. A defeat against Algeria in the Semi-final meant the Eagles had to meet Tunisia in the third-place match, which they never lose, from generation to generations.

The Eagles are back.

Coah Gernot Rohr has played down trying to revenge the AFCON defeat against the Algerians. However, there are some interesting plots to looking forward to in the match.

Maduka with questions to answer

We have what is basically a new set of goalkeepers. Matthew Yakubu is new, Maduka Okoye has only made one substitute appearance, same as the returning Dele Alampasu. Tobias Lawal is also new but may not take part due to eligibility issues.

Whoever man the post for the Super Eagles will be making his first start. It will likely be Okoye, going by Rohr’s hints at his media conference yesterday. Okoye is also the most stable in the present team.

Maduka has a lot to prove.

Questions have been raised about Okoye’s place in the team in the past, now he has the chance to show what he is capable of. Standing at 6ft 6 inches, he has a very good height for a goalkeeper. The Super Eagles have not had a stable number one for some time, Okoye could start laying claims to it ahead of the expected returns of Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Francis Uzoho. Considering that Akpeyi and Ezenwa are already on the other side of 30, Maduka has the chance to displace Uzoho as the future.

A new Oyinbo wall in the offing

Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong built a strong partnership going into the 2018 World Cup. They were subsequently tagged the Oyinbo wall. Majorly due to injury and fitness issues, Balogun has not been regular lately. Troost-Ekong has remained consistent and has had to pair Kenneth Omeruo and Semi Ajayi at different times.

The coming of Kelvin Akpoguma means the status quo might be altered. Though Akpoguma is untested yet, he comes with huge reputation. Playing with Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga, in terms of the league and the club he plays for, he ranks above the other defenders in the team.

Akpoguma (middle) with Balogun (L) and Dessers (R)

It is likely it will become Akpoguma plus someone else at the heart of the defence very soon, most likely a new Oyinbo wall.

Rohr’s midfield altered

If there is one area that Rohr hardly touches in his team, it is the base of his midfield. Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo are his most consistent partnership there. In Etebo’s absence in recent times, he has had to partner Ndidi with Joe Aribo, who performed excellently.

While we were still waiting for what will happen when Etebo returns, the trio became unavailable due to injuries. It means Rohr has to play a new set of midfielders.

Mikel Agu, Frank Onyeka and Samson Tijani are the options in camp. Agu is returning to the team, he is one player Rohr fancies but we have not seen much of him yet. He is expected to partner new boy Midtylland’s Frank Onyeka. 18-year-old Samson Tijani is the other option, not much is expected of him yet. With Ndidi, Etebo and Aribo expected to return, the present midfielders may be playing for one slot. It will be nice to see how the new midfield performs.

The battle for Osimhen’s deputy

Victor Osimhen is the Super Eagles undisputed number 9 right now. He is not available due to COVID 19 regulations. Paul Onuachu has been called up to replace him. Since scoring that stunner against Egypt in a friendly post 2019 AFCON, Onuachu has not been impressive for the Super Eagles. He has however been in good form for his club KRC Genk. He has the chance to prove to Rohr that his massive frame is needed in the Super Eagles.

6ft 7 Onuachu has a point to prove.
6ft 7 Onuachu has a point to prove

Onuachu’s club teammate, Cyril Dessers is expected to make his debut. Not much is known about him than he was the Eredivisie top scorer last season. He has to prove he can be trusted to be Osimhen’s deputy or competitor when called upon.

There’s also the matter of Kelechi Iheanacho, who is more of a forward these days. He has to win Rohr’s trust back, he has not scored for the Super Eagles since 2017.

In all, the friendly match will be one to enjoy. The Algerians have never been easy opponents and are not expected to be but we are expecting a good performance from the Super Eagles.

Written by Tomiwa Ojo @10qmedia on Twitter.

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