On Friday afternoon, the Super Eagles had their first feel of the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium in Johannesburg where on Saturday afternoon they will meet the hosts South Africa in the matchday 5 qualifier for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon. After the last training session in Asaba, Coach Gernot Rohr was sure about most of his starting line-up apart from who will play in goal and up front with Ahmed Musa.
During the training sessions in Asaba, it was clear it was going to be a choice between the Chippa United goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, the Enyimba shot-stopper, to start against the Bafana Bafana. At the start of the first training session at the FNB stadium, Rohr was still unclear who he will play. While Akpeyi has been consistently the number one choice for his PSL team, Ezenwa has been struggling as the number two in Enyimba.
At the training session this afternoon, Rohr was rotating the two goalkeepers in goal for his main team, and it looks like he will choose Daniel Akpeyi for the game on Saturday. In the South African PSL league, he is one of the top goalies. The final starting line-up will be published tomorrow ahead of kick-off, but it looks like the coach has made up his mind.
Another thinking point was who to put in with Ahmed Musa in attack, and it came down to two talented players, Isaac Success Ajayi from Watford and Kelechi Iheanacho from Leicester City. They were also rotated today with the main team. Rohr has to decide who will fit best with Musa and Alex Iwobi, to make sure that absence of Odion Ighalo is not felt in the match. Iheanacho is the more experienced attacker and is favoured to start, but Success has been playing well for Watford lately and would love to get the chance against South Africa in such an important game.
During training on Friday, it appeared that Rohr was testing a three-man defence with Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo. Originally, everyone assumed that Ola Aina will come in for the injured Shehu Abdullahi but it now looks unlikely he will start on Saturday.
Based on today’s session it looks like Rohr will play a different formation to the one he used against Libya, and that he might experiment in midfield and attack. The Super Eagles need a single point to qualify for the AFCON 2019, but they will be looking for revenge against the team who defeated them at home on Match Day 1.