Monday was the scheduled day for the Nigerian internationals to report to the training camp in Asaba ahead of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Saturday. The team will spend a maximum of three days in the camp before jetting off to Johannesburg.
For the first two days, the training sessions will be closed for the public and media but on Wednesday, everyone will be able to have a look, although from afar, at their Super Eagles.
Daniel Akpeyi, the Chippa United goalkeeper, was one of the first players to get to the camp. He will more than likely be replacing the injured Francis Uzoho in goal. Kenneth Omeruo, Brian Idowu and Samuel Chukwueze all bumped into each other at the Frankfurt Airport early on Monday, awaiting their flight to Nigeria. A few players will manage to get to Asaba today, but most will make it by Tuesday morning when the first training session on grass is scheduled.
In the meantime, media and fans alike are wondering who’ll be in the starting line-up due to the injuries to Odion Ighalo, Shehu Abdullahi, Francis Uzoho and Samuel Kalu.
Out of the three goalkeepers, including Theophilus Afelokhai from Enyimba who was just called up by Coach Gernot Rohr, Daniel Akpeyi of Chippa United is the most active at the moment. He kept a clean sheet in his last match for Chippa United, a goalless draw with the Kaizer Chiefs.
William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun will probably keep their place in the centre of the defence, even though some fans have called for the coach to move Balogun to the bench where he’s been for his team Brighton for the past two months and let Kenneth Omeruo, who’s been in excellent form, start in his place. However, coach Rohr believes that this lack of play for Brighton will make Balogun work doubly hard for his Super Eagles teammates. Semi Ajayi will likely take the place of Abdullahi at right back while Jamilu Collins is looking good to keep his place as left back since he is recovering nicely from his injury.
As Wilfred Ndidi is not eligible to play against South Africa due to a suspension, John Ogu might take his place as a holding midfielder. Apart from Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo and Alex Iwobi will take the two other positions in the midfield. Etebo is the one who will be linking the back and the front, creating opportunities while Iwobi is regarded as the most skilful midfielder Rohr has in his squad.
Ahmed Musa will surely, once again, captain his side from the front playing just behind the in-form Isaac Success Ajayi and probably Moses Simon unless Samuel Kalu miraculously heals in the next few days. Another option is Henry Onyekuru who’s also been in good form recently. More details will be known as the week progresses.