The Super Eagles are set to face the Simba of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium on Monday evening in a valedictory match for the Nigerian public as they fly out for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Though there is nothing at stake, players never like losing matches. With that in mind, Nigeria’s manager, Gernot Rohr, will be looking out for some things to help finalise his 23-man team after he revealed only 25 players will jet out to London for the friendly against England on Saturday.
PREMIUM TIMES’ Tunde Eludini, presently in Port Harcourt, serves a list of five things to expect when the Super Eagles Face the Simba of the Congo DR on Monday.
Debutants to feature against Congo DR
Coach Gernot Rohr has almost made up his mind about who will be part of the Eagles team to Russia and whom he will not be taking for the World Cup in Russia.
However, the Franco-German is ready to give some fringe players the last shot of convincing him they merit a place in the final squad. Some of the newbies in his team such as Junior Lokosa and Simeon Nwankwo could make their debuts on Monday’s friendly.
Lokosa, who is top scorer in the Nigerian League with 18 goals as well as Nwankwo the Italy-based striker with Crotone have been impressive in the Eagles training sessions in Uyo and in Port Harcourt.
The likes of Mikel Agu, Uche Agbo, Joel Obi, Stephen Eze, Dele Ajiboye, and Daniel Akpeyi could also make a case for themselves with the Congo game.
Congo DR out to avoid disgrace
The last time a team that had Congo in their name came to Port Harcourt, they left with a win and Kenneth Omeruo’s persona in tatters. That is not saying this Congo DR will cause any stir and beat Nigeria on their home turf, but the players of the Central African country have indeed promised that they will give the Super Eagle a good game.
Benik Afobe who qualifies as one of the biggest names in the Congo DR squad presently in Nigeria told PREMIUM TIMES that they not be pushovers for the World Cup bound Nigeria team.
“Of course, we have to protect our name and the dignity of our country, we take every game serious; even when it’s a training match so we will play well against the Eagles” he assured.
Though the last time Congo DR played against Nigeria in a friendly, they won 2-0, the records show that the two times they have come to the country for friendly games, they were beaten. Congo DR lost 5-2 in 2010 in a friendly played in Abuja and also lost 3-2 as far back as 1966 in another friendly played in Lagos
Head to head
|May 11, 1966||FRI||Nigeria||3 – 2||Congo Kinshasa|
|26/11/66||FRI||Congo Kinshasa||1 – 0||Nigeria|
|27/12/66||FRI||Congo Kinshasa||1 – 0||Nigeria|
|March 3, 2010||FRI||Nigeria||5 – 2||Congo DR|
|August 10, 2015||FRI||Nigeria||0 – 2||Congo DR|
Rohr needs Mikel backup
If the words of the Super Eagles coach are to be taken in all seriousness, Mikel Obi and some top stars may only watch from the bench as Nigeria test their might against Congo DR on Monday.
Rohr particularly made reference to players in China deserving rest and may not necessarily have to burn their energies against Congo DR, as there are still other tune-up games against England and Austria. However, Mikel Obi may be sent unto the pitch to get the crowd onside.
Less physical game
With the World Cup barely 19 days away, no player will want to jeopardize his chances with an injury in an ‘inconsequential’ friendly game. Moses Simon copped a hamstring injury in training; a development, which saw his World Cup, dreams go up in flames.
The rest of the players would rather prefer to be dropped by Rohr than copping an avoidable injury that would effectively put paid to their Russia 2018 ambition. Therefore, we can expect the shirking of many 50/50 confrontations, especially by the Nigerian players
Expect some Champagne to flow
Monday’s friendly is more than a game at least for those in Port Harcourt as many activities have been lined up aside the 90 minutes on the pitch.
Having started their journey to Russia in the Garden City, the Rivers State government is planning big in terms of fanfare to send the Eagles off to the World Cup. There is a party atmosphere in the Garden City, which would be exacerbated by a good Eagles’ display and win. Expect the Champagne to flow after the 90 minutes.