This should be a no-contest, but some variables have ensured that Seychelles, ranked 188 by FIFA, will have their chance for a heavyweight knockout on Saturday when they face the Super Eagles of Nigeria [ranked 49]. The game is the second qualifying match for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Cup tournament to be hosted by Cameroon.
The FIFA ranking is, however, not the only disparity. The Eagles have a $5000 win bonus whereas their Saturday opponents play for the joy of representing their country.
But all that must be set aside on matchday as the Eagles are already playing catch up in Group E, after losing the first match of the series at home to South Africa in May 2017; which means another defeat against Seychelles could mean missing the Nations Cup for a third consecutive time.
The temperature in Victoria is expected in the high 20s – between 25oC and 29oC, though it is said to feel like 34oC in the afternoon which means the artificial turf at Stade Linite will be super hot; though temperatures in Europe have been sweltering of late.
The Eagles are also missing some key players – especially William Troost-Ekong for the defence and Alex Iwobi in attack. Players like Chidozie Awaziem and Kenneth Omeruo are expected to pick up the slack while new invitee, Samuel Kalu, should ameliorate Victor Moses’ retirement.
Rohr qualified for Russia 2018 with an almost impeccable result but four losses from the last five matches do not make for good reading.
Infusion Of New Players
The two players that many Nigerians would be looking at closely in Victoria should be Henry Onyekuru and Samuel Kalu. Onyekuru is playing in the Turkish league with Galatasaray, on loan from Everton, while Kalu moved from Gent to Bordeaux in France and was handed the No.10 shirt.
Both players are blessed with pace and trickery; but what Rohr desperately needs on Saturday is goals. With the absence of arguably the two pillars of the team in Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, it will be a new learning curve for the team despite the presence of experienced campaigners like Ogenyi Onazi and Omeruo.
Rohr has said his players are not on the island for any vacation.
“We are not here on vacation. We are here for serious business.”
And Nigerians will be holding him up to the promise he made concerning the Russia 2018 team being too young. The Eagles must be old enough to get a good result against the part-timers of Seychelles.
Current Form: Seychelles [L-D-D-D-L]; Nigeria [L-W-L-L-L]
Head to head: First ever meeting
Prediction: Seychelles 0-2 Nigeria