The Super Eagles of Nigeria will play their third pre-World Cup friendly game against DR Congo in Port Harcourt next on Monday.
Brila.net presents seven experienced players who Nigerians are really counting on to deliver and do the job for the Super Eagles at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
John Obi Mikel
Captain Fantastic, Super Eagles Skipper, John Mikel Obi is first on the list of the players Nigerians are really looking at to deliver by playing a major role on and off the pitch in Russia.Mikel, 30, Already an experienced figure on International duties with the National team. Mikel narrowly missed out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but he was an important figure in Brazil four years later.
The Tianjin Teda Playmaker during his time at Chelsea won all the domestic and European Trophies making him a club legend. Mikel is expected to continually influence his teammates positively on and off the pitch as the journey to Russia is behind the corner.
The Super Eagles forward who plays as a right wing-back for English Premier League side, Chelsea is the second player Nigerians are expecting to do the job and make the Nation proud in Russia next Month.Moses has been one of the most important Super Eagles players in the last five years since winning the African Cup Of Nations and also making his World Cup debut in Brazil under Late Big Boss, Steven Keshi.
The 27-year-old player has garnered enough experience overtime playing Club football in one of the biggest Football Leagues in Europe, He joined Chelsea during the 2012/2013 season and has won an array of Trophy that includes the Europa League, Premier League and most recently, The FA Cup with the West London side.
Often criticized Super Eagles left back, Elderson Echiejile remains the only Natural left back and the most experienced defender in the Nigeria National team.The AS Monaco defender is an ever-present figure in the Super Eagles but injury has played a role in reducing his game time in the Super Eagles recently.
However, the 30-year-old Echiejile has everything to give Nigerians with his wealth of experience being one of the most capped Super Eagles players in camp. Elderson made his debuts for the senior side in 2009, and he was picked by Coach Lars Lagerback for the following year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
For Brazil 2014, Echiejile also got the nod as he was selected by late big Boss, Steven Keshi but the player missed out narrowly due to injury. The former Braga defender is Nigeria’s most travelled player in the current team having played for clubs in Portugal, France, Spain, Turkey, and Belgium.
With all of these experiences, Echiejile has a lot to deliver, he is expected to prove doubters wrong, and also expected to right the wrongs. Here is also another chance for him to make up for the missed chance four years ago in Brazil.
Former Lazio Midfield enforcer, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi is the fourth player on this list of players expected to deliver for Nigeria when the FIFA Mundial gets underway in Russia.
Onazi currently plays club football in the Turkish Lig with Trabzonspor and has been a very instrumental player for the Turk giants.
The 25-year-old Onazi is the Vice-Captain of the Super Eagles team and has overtime deputise excellently for the Skipper, Mikel during some qualifying and International friendly matches.
There have been questions surrounding the defensive abilities of the energy playing midfield maestro over time, but with his experience, a lot is expected from the Trabzonspor man.
Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo is another player in the Super Eagles team expected to deliver whenever given the chance.Omeruo, Often loan out by Chelsea, he has spent the past three seasons on Loan at Middlesbrough, and Kasimpasa where he spent two seasons.
The 24-year-old defender formed a formidable partnership with Godfrey Oboabona five years ago as the Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations under the tutelage of Late Big Boss, Steven Keshi and was a major part of the Eagles squad at the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Only recently, Omeruo has dropped down the pecking order as he has been unable to displace the defensive pair of the popular ‘Oyinbo wall’ of William Troost-Ekong and Brighton & Hove Albion’s new man, Leon Aderemi Balogun.
Nevertheless, he remains a big part of the squad and has always come from the substitute bench to cover up for the team in recent times.
Kenneth’s experience is vital, and Nigerians are counting on his abilities in Russia whenever called upon.
Leicester City Forward, Ahmed Musa is another big name on this list of Super Eagles players expected to do the job in Russia.Presently on-loan to CSKA Moscow where he has re-discovered his lost form, Musa is one of the most experienced players in the Super Eagles, He starred in the 2014 FIFA World Cup under the Late Coach, Steven Keshi.
Musa’s versatility is another thing that makes him an outstanding player in the Eagles team, he can play in Midfield, in either flank of attack and he can play as the centre-forward.
Odion Jude Ighalo
The last man standing on the list is former Watford striker, Odion Ighalo, who has been regarded as Nigeria’s Natural centre-forward since he made his debut in 2015.With the Likes of Emmanuel Emenike(Retired) and Brown Ideye, Obafemi Martins being shut out of the Squad.
On 24 March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, Nigeria interim coach Daniel Amokachi selected Ighalo for the first time, and the player stated, “I feel good because it is my dream to play for my country”. He gained his first cap two days later, starting in a 0–1 friendly home loss to Uganda
However, Ighalo struggled over time and his goal rate for the Super Eagles has never been impressive, The Changchun Yatai’s forward has over 15 caps for the National team and he is yet to hit Five goals.
Ighalo’s presence and his playing style have kept him in front as the leading attacker in the team ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
A lot is expected of the player who has also played in the English Championship and Premier League with Watford, and in the Italian Serie A with Udinese.