With the World Cup some weeks away, and the Super Eagles taking on Croatia in their opening match, there are several discussion points on the minds of several fans going into this tournament. We take a look at seven of these issues.
As with every team, a long list of questions often flow around the minds of fans everywhere. Who will play? How far will the team go? Which tactics will be used? As Nigerian fans everywhere hold their collective breath in anticipation of the Eagles’ opening fixture, there are some personnel questions that ought to be contemplated.
Gernot Rohr Placed Too Much Faith on John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses?
With an average age of just over 25 years, this is certainly a very young Super Eagles squad going into the World Cup. As is often the case, experience in knock-out tournaments can never be over-stated. Regardless of whether this young squad thrives or folds in front of the world, it is clear to see that strong foundations are being built for the Eagles, and there remains the strong possibility that this team will form a strong cohesive unit in the not-too-distant future.
How Will Francis Uzoho Perform in Goal?
At the age of 19, but is also Rohr’s first choice ‘keeper to manage the defence at the World cup. There is much pressure placed on the shoulders, or gloves, rather, on the Deportivo La Caruna shot stopper, as he will be inevitably compared to his predecessors from previous World cups, such as Ike Shorunmu and Vincent Enyeama. However, based on his performance for both club and country, Uzoho has earned the admiration of football fans. He’s looked good as a young goalkeeper, he’s very good with his organization and grip.
Will Wilfred Ndidi Carry his Form to the World Cup?
Undoubtedly, Ndidi was one of Leicester City’s in-form man in England. Some scintillating displays by the Nath Boys product has seen linked with top sides in the EPL. Much of the Eagles’ success will rest on the shoulders of the youngster.
Will Victor Moses Prove doubters Wrong?
Another player crucial to Nigeria’s goal-scoring opportunities will be the man that played a huge role in the qualifiers. Heavily criticised for his commitments to the Super Eagles, the Chelsea wing-back wasn’t impressive in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With a daunting group stage campaign ahead, many will be hoping that Moses leads the Eagles to the “Promised Land”.
Will Odion Ighalo Rise to the Occasion?
Arguably no other player in the Eagles squad will feel as much pressure to deliver as Odion. He had a poor tournamet for Nigeria in the 2009 U20 World Cup. He is at the peak of his career. This will likely be his last shot at being a central figure to Eagles’ quest for a great tournament.
Who Will Compliment Mikel and Ndidi?
With Rohr insisting on a 4-1-2-3 formation, one aspect of the squad that needs to be addressed is the role of who joins Mikel and Ndidi. Going into the tournament, the makeup of the midfield remains in doubt. While Ndidi and Mikel are sure-starters, the identity of who joins them remains open for discussion. As of yet, it appears that Alex Iwobi will be occupying a more central role in attack, however, many argue that this new position does not quite get the best out of the Arsenal lad. Additionally, fitness concerns remain over the captain, and if Mikel is unlucky to suffer a knock, who will Rohr turn to? The more experienced players in John Ogu and Ogenyi Onazi? Or perhaps one of the talented lads in the form of Oghenekaro Etebo?
Can Shehu Abdullahi Live Up to Expectations?
Having improved exponentially in the past couple of years, the former Kano Pillars fans favourite has gone on to be a main stay on the Eagles starting XI. A player that can play in the middle of the park, or as a full-back. This World cup can have a large say in the direction of Shehu’s footballing career. He has a chance to announce himself on the world stage.