With only 15 days left to this significant World Cup qualifier in Uyo, Nigeria, many Nigerians are curious as to changes coach Gernot Rohr would make to the squad list. I am particularly concerned about the weaknesses of the team as seen during our last encounter with Zambia in Ndola. It’s good news that dependable central defender, Leon Balogun will definitely make a return, but we should be most concerned with our wing back and we need to fortify the midfield. With this in mind, I am proposing the following players based on current excellent form to tinker the team:[media-credit name=”Credit: fk-austria-wien” align=”alignleft” width=”150″][/media-credit]
1. Olarenwaju Kayode (Forward)
Kayode has rose through the ranks of our national junior teams. He has enjoyed game time playing in relatively lower leagues, but this has helped towards his development. His current form reveals a player who have come of age, and have taken the right career part. Now playing for Austria Wien and the Austrian Bundesliga, he has featured for his club even in the Europa League and showed the kind of stuff he is made of , providing a fine assist and late equalizer in last week’s away draw with Serie A side, Roma. Based on current form, he can dislodge a couple strikers who featured for the Super Eagles in the last two national assignments. He definitely deserves a look in.[media-credit name=”Credit: Liverpool FC” align=”alignleft” width=”150″][/media-credit]
2. Ovie Ejaria (Midfield)
Ovie Ejaria has finally made his debut in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat of Tottenham at the EFL cup last week. Liverpool are one of the contenders for the Premier League crown, and this lad is solidly in the plans of Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, to make this mission possible. Already invited to England U21, he was fielded in an unofficial game. Ovie has once trained with the Nigerian Golden Eaglets, so there is no question of his loyalty to his motherland. This is an opportunity not only to cap him, but also to add some reinforcement to our midfield. The World Cup qualifier is no child’s play, but talented and ambitious young players have been doing the magic so far for Nigeria, in her quest to qualify for Russia ’18. Why not Ovie as well?
3. John Ogu (Midfield)
The Israeli League is definitely not one of the best leagues in Europe, but being recognized as the best foreign player in that league is not an average feat. John Ogu has demonstrated on the pitch that he is a better player compared to his previous stints with the Super Eagles. A natural lefty, he has demonstrated that he has an eye for goal from a long distance, reminiscent of Sunday Oliseh back in the Nigeria’s glory days.With coach Rohr complaining of the team’s inability to shoot during the Zambia game, John is definitely a good option to throw in the mix. Also, he could be the opposite of Victor Moses’ new role at Chelsea — playing as a left-wing-back. This can provide support for the left full back, especially as this position will be tested by rampaging Riyad Mahrez of Algeria. John Ogu had good words for the former, Ovie Ejaria. I am fantasizing seeing the pair play beside each other in the midfield. I guess it’s too early for such gamble. But definitely Ogu deserves a fight for a shirt based on current form.[media-credit name=”Credit: SuperSport” align=”alignleft” width=”150″][/media-credit]
4. Oghenekaro Etebo (Forward)
Oghenekaro Etebo needs no introduction considering his exploits in Rio Olympics, scoring 5 goals in one match against Japan in Nigeria’s first game. He has long been in Rohr’s plans but one unfortunate event after another have kept him away from joining the team. He was fielded as an attacking midfielder by coach Samson Siasia during the olympics, although played as a striker at Feirense, in the Portuguese top flight. He is dependable and can do the damage should the duo of Iheanacho and Iwobi fail to deliver. Barring any injuries or travel issues, Etebo is definitely a sure banker for the Algeria tie.[media-credit name=”Credit: Clive Brunskill” align=”alignleft” width=”150″][/media-credit]
5. Victor Moses (Midfield)
I have long believed before now that Victor Moses can thrive better as a left or right wing back, just as I have believed that Taiye Taiwo, back in the days, should have been fielded as a left-wing-back instead of a left-full back. Coach of Chelsea, Conte have finally confirmed my belief, as Moses is now one of the untouchables, playing this role in the new look Chelsea squad. Would Rohr play Moses in this new role? I think he should, as we have no better options in both our full back positions. We will need left and right wing backs for support. Since the retirement of Celestine Babayaro and Chidi Odiah, the Nigerian senior team have lacked a cutting edge in the full back positions. If we don’t have them, we can’t manufacture them. With all due respect, Elderson Echiejile (Left-full-back) is average. Musa Muhammad (Right-full-back) is not there yet. We will need to make compensation for this lack by positioning solid wing back players like. Think 3-4-3 or 3-5-2.
As we anxiously wait for Rohr’s list, can you recommend any deserving player(s) I may have missed here?