After three days in the training camp, Nigerian Coach Gernot Rohr has identified most of his starting eleven for the important game against South Africa on Saturday. The main issue Rohr will have to deal with it is who to put in front of goal since his number one goalie Francis Uzoho is out through injury.
It’s now clear that it will be a choice between the Daniel Akpeyi, the Chippa United goalkeeper and the Enyimba International Ikechuku Ezenwa. Both have played for the Super Eagles before but Ezenwa has more caps, 19 compared to Akpeyis eight appearances. But, Akpeyi knows the South African players well which might be an advantage. On the other hand, Ezenwa has done well when he got his chance for Nigeria. The Coach will have to decide on the keeper today, after the first training session in Johannesburg.
In talks with the media during the week, Rohr has talked about the missing players and what it will mean for the game in South Africa. Apart from the goalkeeper Uzoho, the defender Shehu Abdullahi is still out, and more recently, the in-form striker Odion Ighalo was injured. Luckily, Samuel Kalu looks like he will be ready for the match. And, during the week, Henry Onyekuru has picked up an ankle injury, but it’s not yet clear how serious it is.
Nigeria will also miss their captain John Obi Mikel who has decided not to play for the Super Eagles right now and Wilfred Ndidi, who is serving a suspension. It will be a challenge without these missing players, but the Eagles will still be confident on the back of three straight wins.
In other positions, it appears that most of the starting line-up against Libya in their last game will be chosen to start against the Bafana Bafana as well. In training, Rohr usually names a Team A and Team B who then play against each other. Team A normally consists of players who are more likely to start. For instance, Ezenwa was in Team A for their last training session in Asaba which might provide a hint for Saturday. One of the players who Rohr moved from Team B to Team A before the trip to Johannesburg was Kelechi Iheanacho from Leicester City which might suggest that he will get the nod in attack.
The Super Eagles have arrived in South Africa during the night and immediately transferred to their accommodation. The training session at the First National Bank stadium is scheduled for 3 pm Nigerian time on Friday. The team need to leave South Africa on Sunday without a defeat and they will qualify for the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.