To be honest, the midfield looks very light in the absence of the heavyweights.
That is what they are: Iwobi, Etebo, Ndidi and from 2019 Aribo are the behemoths and pillars of Super Eagles’ midfield.
In the last 24 months across 12 competitive games, Nigeria’s midfield has been more or less dominated by this quartet with Aribo and Etebo being alternated.
They have formed a bond and understanding which tends to dictate the formation that Rohr adopts. The German tactician seems to trust these 4 player to interpret the thinking and philosophy that goes into his tactical set up.
Either in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation or his now-sparingly used 5-3-2 formation, Rohr can trust Ndidi and Aribo (or Etebo) to sit just behind Iwobi in midfield. And as these players have now been oiling the midfield machine together for quite some time now, it brings continuity, greater understanding and more propensity for positive outcomes.
As 75% of his favoured midfield set up is not available, what does Rohr do?
It will be interesting to see if, like the last match against Cape Verde, he goes for a formation that more mirrors 4-4-2. The might suggest that he does not yet trust others to do the work of his regulars in midfield.
I think he should stick to how he sets his team up normally. Bonke can replace Ndidi (for a second time) side by side with the disciplined Onyeka while Aribo can be pushed further forward where Iwobi would play normally. After all, Aribo plays offensively a lot for Rangers.
Several fans have often suggested that Shehu could be deployed in Ndidi’s place but there appears to be no appetite from Rohr to explore that option.
Another possibility is to retain Aribo in his normal centre midfield position whilst drafting Musa as the attacking midfielder with Onyeka playing Ndidi’s role.
Either way, there are viable options on ground for any formation or set up Rohr wishes to adopt tomorrow.
“It’s not good (to lose Ndidi, Etebo and Iwobi),” said Rohr, ”but we to deal with the situation. We have other players who can replace them.”
Nigeria’s midfield might not be spectacular but it is solid enough. A new look midfield set up contributed to the positive result against Cape Verde. In all probability, the ‘replacements’ at Rohr’s disposal should be capable of doing a double against CAR.