The continuation of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign is still six months away, but Nigeria’s senior national team manager, Gernot Rohr has friendly matches planned to determine the readiness of players he intends to use against Cameroon in August.
There has been some hoopla at home because only one player – Ikechukwu Ezenwa, a goalkeeper, was deemed good enough to join the team for the matches against Senegal and Burkina Faso
In Senegal, Rohr has gone for a look-alike opponent – physical, skillful and brawny; attributes that the Indomitable Lions possess in abundance. On Thursday, the Eagles meet the Teranga Lions at little Barnet Stadium in the UK, and Rohr will be taking note of the following:
The right back position
Since he took over the Eagles, Rohr has deployed no less than three different players in this position – Musa Mohamed, Wilfred Ndidi, and Abdullahi Shehu, but he is still searching. That is the major reason why a Tyronne Ebuehi has been invited.
A likely replacement for Victor Moses
With Moses out injured [for the umpteenth time in friendly matches], Rohr would be looking for a worthy replacement for the left and right flanks. Moses Simon and Ahmed Musa have been used to no great effect. That must be the purpose of bringing in Isaac Success, who does a good job from the flanks for Watford in the Premiership.
Can Ezenwa stand in effectively for Ikeme?
Carl Ikeme is injured and Daniel Akpeyi could not join his colleagues on time, which means FC Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, would be given the opportunity to lay claims to the No.1 jersey. His performance against Senegal would either make or mar his national team stint, at least under Rohr.
Can Ndidi replace Mikel’s experience?
Is Rohr going to look back or forward on the issue of his defensive midfielders by thoroughly contemplating Wilfred Ndidi for the role full time after using the midfielder at right back position? There is also the little issue of Mikel Obi, who still bestrides the Eagles like a colossus. Ndidi has been doing very well with Leicester City and maybe it is high time that the position was handed over permanently.
These friendly matches are not the only barometers for judging players but it is a huge chunk of how Rohr will prepare this team for the exam of the Lions come August.