The list released to face Guinea Bissau next week is strong enough. It has a terrific and terrifying starting 11 with 5 players that can come in to form a solid substitute repertoire.
There are one or two eyebrow-raising names in there but in truth, this is a feature of any list that is released for any national team in any country for any assignments.
For instance, those who would like to see the back of Ahmed Musa in the national team will have to wait that bit longer. The likes of Aribo, Onyeka, Omeruo, Onuachu, Ajayi, Ndidi and even Uzoho would (arguably) have been nowhere near this latest list had selection been left to a free and fair public vote of the fans.
But there is nothing democratic about player invitations. Fans will have to make do with the choice of some faceless powerful stakeholders who weild significant influence in this area.
The coach (Jose Peseiro) will vehemently reject any idea of interference in his choice of players to invite. If that is the case, then one has to respect his choices and leave it at that.
My worry is in the goalkeeping department. It is glaringly underwhelming and has been so for a while now. The defence on paper looks solid enough but the midfield is wafer thin. Remove Iwobi from the mix and the midfield structure runs the risk of crumbling down to earth like a dilapidated edifice. The wings are well manned and the attacking department has sharp teeth or in the case of Osimhen, deadly fangs.
Outside the midfield and goalkeeping departments, the set up looks solid enough.
Should Peseiro persist with his favourite 4-4-2 constellation, then we have Uzoho barking out to Akpoguma and Bassey with Zaidu and Osayi-Samuel sandwiching the two.
Ndidi and Iwobi should form the centre midfield flanked by Simon and Chukwueze on either side.
A twist could see Peseiro experiment a partnership of Osimhen and Lookman up front in roles that represent a carbon copy of how they file out for their respective clubs in Italy – where they have ripped defences apart with reckless abandonment.
There seems to be a plan for Onuachu in this set up. His height and hold up play – rather than his goals scoring prowess per se – could be his trump card to relevance.
Aribo is highly favoured it would seem. So also is Frank Onyeka. Both have been flat, unimaginative, inconspicuous and uninfluential in Nigeria’s midfield in recent times. And, although this has also carried through to their club football, they continue to make an appearance in the Super Eagles.
I wonder why Ola Aina was excluded. He has been a worthy servant and I thought he’s done enough to always be on the list if fit. Apart from him, the defence looks solid.
What I will be looking out for is how Peseiro’s Super Eagles approach the matches. Will it be a continuation of quick turnaround passes from defence to attack or a slightly slower build up play.
It’s great to look forward to the Super Eagles play again.
Super Eagles List
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Victor Sochima (Rivers United); Kingsley Aniagboso (Giant Brillars)
Defenders: Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce SK, Turkey); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Calvin Bassey (FC Ajax, The Netherlands); Daniel Bameyi (YumYum FC); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista FC, Portugal)
Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Joe Aribo (Southampton, England)
Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Ahmed Musa (Sivasspor K, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF, Spain); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Ademola Lookman (Atalanta BC, Italy); Terem Moffi (OGC Nice, France); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Paul Onuachu (Southampton FC, England)
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