With the World Cup getting closer and closer, Futbalgalore.com takes a look at who are the candidates to star in the Super Eagles defence.
Gernot Rohr expects to bring a strong Nigeria squad to Russia; however a team is only as strong as its weakest component.
There has been a plethora of talented stars playing in the midfield and attack, but not too many people remember the Eagles for their defensive stars. This is going to be an issue as Eagles’ backline will have to take on the attacking forces from countries like Croatia, Iceland and Argentina. So who are the best back four for the Eagles?
1st Choice – Shehu Abdullahi – Age: 25 /Caps: 12 /Club: Bursaspor. The defender has impressed in all of his international appearances, and has become Rohr’s first choice for right back. He’s an aggressive and energetic defender, who consistently attacks down the right flank, linking well with the likes of Moses Simon, and can provide dangerous crosses. However, the Bursaspor right back has not really played against a world class winger yet for his country, but perhaps the upcoming friendlies will test his abilities a bit further.
Tyronne Ebuehi – Age: 22/Caps: 4/Club: Benfica. On the back of an impressive season for Ado Den Haag, which led to his move to Benfica, Ebuehi is a real threat to Shehu’s starting berth. At the young age of 22, Ebuehi has appeared four times for the Super Eagles.
Ola Aina – Age: 21/Caps: 4/Club: Chelsea. Aina can also prove to be a legitimate contender for the right back position. He had a confirmed starting role for Hull City on-loan from Chelsea and is a very promising young defender.
1st Choice – William Troost Ekong – Age: 24/Caps: 18/Club: Bursaspor. & Leon Balogun: 29/Caps: 16/Club: Mainz. The duo have been bedrock of Rohr’s team. Balogum is a leader on the field, and with his wealth of experience, he helps organize the back four for his club and country. He would add experience to the back four. He is a good distributor of the ball, and his strength allow him to handle his opposition wisely. Alongside Balogun, the young and aggressive Ekong would complete the duo. Ekong is also a decent distributor of the ball; he also has great strength, aggressiveness and a high work rate, making it hard for attackers to get by him.
Chidozie Awaziem – Age: 21/Caps: 3/Club: Nantes. Awaziem is also a leader on the field. He has great vision, height and aggression to challenge for a starting birth in the Eagles XI. Kenneth Omeruo – Age: 24/Caps: 37/Club Kasimpasa. Omeruo has also made his mark on the national team. He also has strength and aggression to deal with the attacking opposition and his aerial and shooting abilities have caught the attention of many.
1st Choice – Brian Idowu – Age: 26/Caps: 3/Club: Amkar Perm. The left back position will certainly be prominent at this year’s world cup. Idowu is more of an attacking minded left back, as Amkar Perm has even opted to playing him as winger on some occasions. He may be Nigeria’s best left back, as his crisp passing links him and others well down the left flank. However his defensive abilities have been questionable.
Elderson Echiejille – Age: 30/Caps: 57/Club: Cercle Brugge. Echiejille has the edge on Idowu in terms of experience. He has 57 caps to his name. Echiejille is a very good attacking player; he’s not afraid to make runs with ball down the flank or directly to the net if an opportunity arises. He and Idowu are sort of similar left backs as they both look to attack and could improve the defensive qualities.