On Tuesday, May 14th, Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr’s 23-man provisional list for the AFCON was published by the NFF and there were very few surprises.
Here we’ll take a look at the winners and losers; players who must count themselves supremely lucky to make this list and those who should have got a look in.
The Super Eagles captain was always going to be an instant pick as long as he was open to returning to the team, but Mikel Obi can count himself extremely lucky to be back for what could be his swansong.
Mikel missed all seven of Nigeria’s competitive games since the Eagles were knocked out of the world cup in 2018 by Argentina.
But, he will likely stroll into Rohr’s starting XI and take back his position in the midfield, as the only indispensable player to Rohr, and it will be at the expense of none.
His last football match was the friendly against Egypt in Asaba and he also showed no signs of rustiness, Leon Balogun, but the AFCON is different ball game.
In 2019, Balogun played just a handful of minutes, 300 precisely for club and country.
His minutes were soo restricted he only made Brighton’s bench three times in the last two months and was restricted to Cup games.
Yet, he made Rohr’s provisional list in rankling spite of the fact that he has only played competitive football three times in 2019; the last coming in March.
He’s been out of sorts for many months and was even dropped for Nigeria’s final AFCON qualifying match against Seychelles and the high profile friendly against Egypt, both in the month of March.
Iheanacho is also getting restricted minutes at Leicester, where the forward last scored in September 2018. He managed only one league goal and three assists in 30 appearances.
The 2018 CHAN semi-finalist showed promise as a CB; marshaling Nigeria’s defence in Morocco.
Eze proved to be the type of player who would put his body on the line for his team and little wonder he has been a constant feature for Lokomotiv Plodiv.
Recently, he also won the Cup with Plodiv and his league appearances reached 25 – 12 more than his first season – showing consistency on the part of the former Sunshine Stars defender.
He has played 1110 minutes of competitive football since the beginning of the year.
He was surprise inclusion in the Super Eagles team for the 2018 World Cup, where he played only 4 minutes. But he returned to club action in the new season with Crotone in the Serie B, and Simy scored 14 goals in 33 appearances; his best goal return in Italy.
However, the Forward didn’t get a recall when Nigeria’s 2019 AFCON qualifiers resumed and the signs were clear that Rohr perhaps was looking elsewhere.
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