Super Eagles of Nigeria picked Africa’s Group B sole ticked for Russia 2018 Fifa World Cup, with 13 points from five matches played, and a match against Algeria still outstanding. The ticket was sealed when Nigeria, October 7, beat Zambia [1—0] in Uyo. Drawn in Group B with Nigeria are Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia – formidable teams with pedigree in Africa football championship.
At the commencement of qualifying matches, Algeria was best football team in Africa by Fifa ranking. Cameroon was champion of African Cup of Nations, while Zambia was emerging a potent team for the competition. Sports analysts ranked Africa’s Group B as the group of death.
Gernot Rohr, Super Eagles Technical Adviser, joined the team when the fortunes and future of the Super Eagles was receding and uncertain. Nigeria had for two consecutive times, failed to qualify for African Cup of Nations; and at a time when a Nigerian appointed Super Eagles Chief Coach absconded and deserted the team.
Super Eagles qualification for Russia 2018 world cup was dazzling. Five qualifying matches played, so far, Nigeria won four and drew one. It has, for some years, not been so smooth sailing into a world cup final for Nigeria. Gernot Rohr has credited the players for the team’s qualification for the world cup in Russia.
In a build up to the final Group B match against Algeria, and a scheduled Grade A international friendly against Argentina, Gernot Rohr invited 24 Super Eagles players. On the team list are Captain Mikel Obi leading key players, Ahmed Musa and Onenyi Onazi for both matches.
The invited players will, Monday, November 6, be in a camp in Morocco. Thursday, November 9, they will fly to Constantine, Algeria for the match against Algerian national team. Two days later, the Super Eagles will leave Constantine for Krasnodar, a Russian city for the international friendly against Argentina scheduled for November 14.
Further fine-tuning the Super Eagles team, Gernot Rohr called up, for the first time, Francis Uzoho [goalkeeper] of Deportivo La Coruna of Spain and Chidiebere Nwakali [midfielder] of Sogndal FC, Norway. Brain Idowu based in Russia and plays for FC Amkar Perm, was also called up and placed on standby for the friendly with Argentina.
Kenneth Omeruo of Kasimpasa FC, Turkey, who had a good outing with the Super Eagles in 2013 AFCON, and for a while, has been missing in the Super Eagles, is on standby in Rohr team list, along with Alhassan Ibrahim who plays for Austria.
Appraising Gernot Rohr tenacity and results in handling the Super Eagles in a very short while, and with further right focus, the Super Eagles, if well fine-tuned, could spring surprises at Russia 2018 world cup. Nothing less than an enabling environment for ultimate performance should be provided for Gernot Rohr by Nigerian football authority.
Nigeria can rewrite Africa’s football World Cup history in Russia 2018. Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal have set Africa’s record as quarter-finals in Fifa World Cup — the best so far in the continent. With a formidable build-up with the Super Eagles, Rohr should aim at surpassing Africa’s quarter-final records.
THE FULL LIST
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi [Chippa United, South Africa]; Ikechukwu Ezenwa [FC Ifeanyi Ubah]; Francis Uzoho [Deportivo La Coruna, Spain]
Defenders: William Ekong [Bursaspor FC, Turkey]; Abdullahi Shehu [Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus]; Tyronne Ebuehi [ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands]; Leon Balogun [FSV Mainz 05, Germany]; Uche Agbo [Standard Liege, Belgium]; Chidozie Awaziem [Nantes FC, France]; Olaoluwa Aina [Hull City, England].
Midfielders: Mikel Obi [Tianjin Teda, China]; Ogenyi Onazi [Trabzonspor FC, Turkey]; Wilfred Ndidi [Leicester City, England]; Oghenekaro Etebo [CD Feirense, Portugal]; John Ogu [Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel]; Mikel Agu [Bursaspor FC, Turkey]; Chidiebere Nwakali [Sogndal FC, Norway].
Forwards: Ahmed Musa [Leicester City, England]; Kelechi Iheanacho [Leicester City, England]; Moses Simon [KAA Gent, Belgium]; Alex Iwobi [Arsenal FC, England]; Odion Ighalo [Chang Chun-Yatai, China]; Henry Onyekuru [RSC Anderlecht, Belgium]; Anthony Nwakaeme [Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel].
Standby: Kenneth Omeruo [Kasimpasa FC, Turkey]; Alhassan Ibrahim [FK Austria Wien, Austria]; Brian Idowu [FC Amkar Perm, Russia].