Odion Ighalo returns, Emmanuel Dennis & Taiwo Awoniyi miss out; as Coach Gernot Rohr sticks to familiar legs in must-win games against Liberia & Cape Verde.
Ahead of the concluding fixtures for the second round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifying series; Nigeria’s senior team coach, Gernot Rohr has released a list of 24 players to prosecute crucial matches against Liberia and Cape Verde.
The biggest news is the return of Al Shabab striker, Odion Ighalo, to the fold of the Super Eagles. The 32-year-old striker, who called time on his career with the National Team after the 2019 AFCON, has now been recalled to lead the charge for qualification to the next stage of World Cup qualification.
Victories in the matches against Liberia and Cape Verde are non-negotiable for the Super Eagles after they faltered during the surprise home defeat to the Central African Republic team on Matchday 3.
Six points from both games in November mean automatic qualification for the final round of qualifying, a target that Gernot Rohr and his boys know must be met. Whereas most of the other team selection did not raise eyebrows, we’ll look at the winners and losers from the latest Super Eagles list.
The German tactician knows that the 200 million-strong Nigerian fans will take no excuse for failure to defeat Liberia and Cape Verde and thus, he has reverted to type.
Calling up Odion Ighalo for these matches is in character with his reluctance to try out new methods (or players), rather going for systems and players that have brought him success in the past. Other than Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo is one of Rohr’s trusted soldiers and he would not go to war without the former Manchester United striker.
Wilfred Ndidi & the midfield
It was no coincidence that Nigeria recorded its first loss in the World Cup Qualifying series when Wilfred Ndidi was out injured.
The return of the Leicester City midfielder is a huge boost for the Super Eagles and the midfield as he would bring the stability and steel that he’s known for to the team. There’s no better time for Ndidi to return to help the Super Eagles to victory against their Group C opponents.
Emmanuel Dennis & Taiwo Awoniyi
The Watford and Union Berlin strikers have been in barnstorming form for their clubs respectively. With 15 goals and 5 assists between both forwards, they are some of the hottest strikers on the European scene at the moment.
However, the prolific form of other Nigerian strikers, notably Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho; the continued presence of Ahmed Musa, and the aforementioned recall of Odion Ighalo means that they cannot get a look-in at this stage of the qualifiers. Emmanuel Dennis and Taiwo Awoniyi must be wondering what it would take to catch Gernot Rohr’s attention.