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Echiéjilé, Akpeyi and five others who should not make Rohr’s 23-man squad for Russia 2018

Echiéjilé, Akpeyi and five others who should not make Rohr’s 23-man squad for Russia 2018

Yesterday, mixed feelings greeted the release of the 30-man provisional squad by the Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr.

The inclusion of Nigeria Professional Football League top scorer, Kano Pillars’ Junior Lokosa was applauded by many while some showed their displeasure at the exclusion of some players they felt should have been included.

I am sure the names in the provisional squad wouldn’t have caught many by surprise as the players selected are/had paying/paid their dues and deserved to be included.

The next job on Gernot Rohr’s hand is to prune the 30-man squad to a 23-man squad, and he has until latest June 4th to do that. Which means he has the opportunity to have a closer look at some of the fringe players in the International Friendlies against Congo DR on May 28th and England on June 2.

It is going to be a difficult task for him but will be selecting the players we thought shouldn’t be on the list and why they need to watch games as supporters from the stand or their homes.

1. Daniel Akpeyi

The Chippa United goalkeeper shouldn’t make the final cut for obvious reasons. Daniel Akpeyi has had it very poor almost everytime he had worn the Super Eagles jersey. Most recently was his schoolboy mistake against Argentina in the November International friendly.

Schoolboy mistakes, lack of concentration and confidence must be reduced to the barest minimum or eradicated for Nigeria to have a good chance at Russia 2018. Of all the four goalkeepers, Daniel Akpeyi looked the most vulnerable and guilty of the above-listed qualities even though he is the most experienced among them.

2. Elderson Echiejille

Dropping Elderson Echiejille for me should be an easy decision. He is up against Brian Idowu who I believe should be the preferred choice in the left-back position after his impressive performances against Argentina, Poland, and Serbia.

Ola Aina should also deputize Brian Idowu and not Elderson Echiejille who often leaves the Super Eagles backline exposed because of his lack of positional discipline and he is a no-no against pacy and skillful wingers.

The only reason Elderson Echiejille would be making the list will be because of his experience, not form or what he can offer. Throughout this football calendar year, he only played 10 games despite playing for three different clubs (Sporting Gijón, Sivasspor, Cercle Brugge).

In fact, he has only played 18 league games in 2 years. A player who found playing time hard to get for Belgian second division club shouldn’t be playing for Nigeria when there are alternatives. Ola Aina’s versatility and game time at his club level should be considered instead of Elderson Echiejille’s ‘experience’ that might not be useful because of his rustiness.

3. Stephen Eze

Rock solid for the CHAN Eagles at the 2018 CHAN championship, did well through the tournament and should be on his way to Russia but the guys he is up against are not just experienced but also regular players for their clubs. Not sure he would offer more than the guys ahead of him in the pecking order.

4. Uche Agbo

Still can’t find an answer to how Uche Agbo keeps making Gernot Rohr’s list. The Standard Liege versatile player had made every list Rohr has invited since he took over but hasn’t been ‘significantly’ used. Although he is a midfielder who could be effective as a central defender, for me taking him will be a waste of a slot.

5. Mikel Agu

The Porto midfielder on loan at Bursaspor has come under heavy criticism each time he had played for the Super Eagles. Think he could be a useful addition to the team but I am not going to take him ahead of the players he is up against.

6. Junior Lokosa

It will be difficult to ignore Junior Lokosa’s exploit for Kano Pillars this season. Already scored 18 goals in 21 league games and massively influencing Pillars season, Lokosa deserves a spot but not sure of picking him ahead of the experienced players he is up against.

7. Simy Nwankwo

The Italian Serie A sensation would offer something different in the attack. Standing 6′ 6″ tall could be useful should Gernot Rohr decide to go big against our opponents at World Cup. Considering how poor statistically Dejan Loveren is against tall strikers, The Crotone striker could be the solution when Nigeria play Croatia. Yet, not sure he would make the final squad.

What the final 23 should look like

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Carina), Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC).

Defenders: William Troost Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Mainz), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa), Shehu Abdullahi (Bursaspor), Tyrone Ebuehi (Ado Den Haag), Ola Aina (Hull City), Brian Idowu (Amkar Perm).

Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Tianjin Teda), Joel Obi (Torino), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor) Etebo Oghenekaro (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City).

Forwards: Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars), Moses Simon (KAA Gent), Simy Nwankwo (Crotone)

By: Tope Adefala

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