It is 17 days to the World cup in Russia and 19 days to Super Eagles first match against Croatia at the 35,212 capacity Kaliningrad Stadium in Russia. The Gernot Rohr tutored side made history by being one of the first teams to qualify for the month long soccer fiesta that is sure as usual to arrest attention of the entire globe while it lasts.
With avalanche of friendly matches including that against arch world cup rivals and group stage opponents Argentina, Poland, Serbia already behind us and forthcoming friendly against DR Congo later today in Port Harcourt, against England June 2nd at the Wembley and against Czech Republic June 6 in Austria, the team can be said to have done the needful in terms of qualification and on course in terms of last minute shape up for the much awaited kick off.
It is no longer news that Rohr like most of other coaches heading for the world cup has announced his 30-man provisional squad which includes what some have termed the regulars or better put the usual suspects plus of course seven extra players who are sure to be dropped in line with the rules that demands that every country present final 23-man list for the Muindial.
These seven players that must be dropped some analysts who choose to be sarcastic have dubbed “training materials” It like looking at a cup that is not filled up to the bream. While the optimist will say it is half full the pessimist will say it is half empty.
For a player to have made the 30-man provisional world cup list is in itself an achievement which implies that as at the time of heading to the World cup you are among the best 30 players in nation that parades legions of players both locally and internationally is no mean achievement.
So whether selected in the final 23 or not, such a player can be said to have come, seen and conquered! Coach Rohr at a recent media parley hinted that he already has 20 players on board which implies that all that is needed is additional three and the doors will be closed!
With all this said the question still remains, who makes the final 23 due to be announced any time after today’s friendly against Congo?
Moses Simon has been ruled out due to thigh injury he sustained at the Super Eagles camp in Uyo preceding today’s friendly
Kano Pillars Junior Lokasa is the talk of town as the highest goal scorer in the Nigeria Professional football league. While his inclusion into the 30-man squad has been hailed some have raised doubt over whether he can make the last 23 considering his limited experience on a bigger stage, but with Moses Simon out does it increase the chances of Lokosa stepping in? In goal keeping department Daniel Akpeyi may not be in the good books of some but will his experience exposure not count in his favour?
Going by hint given by Coach Gernot Rohr and looking at who did what doing the qualifiers;
Eagles final 23 man list is likely to be thus:
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC); Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa)
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Tyronne Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag, The Netherlands); Olaoluwa Aina (Hull
City, England); Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge KSV, Belgium); Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem
(Nantes FC, France); William Ekong (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany)
Midfeilders: : John Mikel Obi (Tianjin Teda, China); Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester
City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (UD Las Palmas, Spain); Belgium); Joel Obi (Torino FC, Italy); Mikel Agu (Bursaspor FC,
Forwards:Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Nwankwo Simeon (Crotone FC,
Italy) Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England)
Those likely to be dropped baring last minute change of tide:
Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)
Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa FC, Turkey); Stephen Eze (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria)
John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Uche Agbo (Standard Liege,
Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars) Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium)