Nigeria v Uganda | Three things to expect in Asaba

Super Eagles of Nigeria
Super Eagles of Nigeria (Photo Credit: Reuters)

The Super Eagles are super again after qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a game to spare.

Gernot Rohr led a team, shod of some regulars, to high-altitude Johannesburg and snagged the point needed off the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

Basically, the team did just enough to get across the finish line despite losing their first qualifying match for Cameroon 2019 to South Africa in 2017.

So the Eagles have landed and the first match after that qualification is a friendly against fellow qualifiers – the Cranes of Uganda, who they square up against at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Tuesday. So what should football fans be looking out for?

Bench all the regular

Regulars like Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong should be given the day off so we can get a look at and assess the likes of Semi Ajayi, Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen, and Mikel Agu.

With the team now in preparation mode for the Nations Cup in June next year, Rohr must be looking at filling the spaces in his 23-man squad with players who are very close to the level of his favoured starting 11.

Let’s see some home-based players

Does the Nigeria Professional Football League have some quality players that can appear in the main Super Eagles’ team? Yes. Have they been given enough chances to stake a claim? No.

Rohr cannot continue to underrate and disdain the players in the local league [with the help of the Nigeria Football Federation] just because he has so many choices from those abroad.

There is coming a time when the local players will refuse call-ups and then the national team manager will be in a troubled spot. Integrate them now just as the late Stephen Keshi used these same players to win the 2013 AFCON and to get into the second round of the World Cup in 2014.

There are still nuggets like Sunday Mba in the NPFL.

Go out to win

The Eagles seem to be set up not to lose even though they have been involved in some high-scoring matches – the setup and the players called upon have verged on the conservative side.

Against South Africa last Saturday, the team looked for all intents and purposes as one trained to pick a draw. Whilst that is the professional outlook for a competitive encounter, the same should not hold true against Uganda on Tuesday.

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