Seven Super Eagles’ Players Facing World Cup Heartbreak

Dele Ajiboye playing in the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations


LAGOS MARCH 15TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The upcoming international break presents an opportunity for the members of Nigeria’s 28-man squad to nail down a berth in the travelling party for the World Cup by impressing Gernot Rohr.
However, those left out of this month’s selection face an anxious wait to see whether they can muscle into the coach’s plans in time to make the plane to Russia.

Here are seven absentees whose hopes aren’t extinguished…just yet.
Dele Ajiboye: Despite the recent ‘logical’ explanation by Gernot Rohr in the media concerning the exclusion of Ajiboye and Dele Alampasu ahead of the March international friendlies, the Plateau United goalkeeper can count himself unfortunate to have been excluded.
Ajiboye should still get his opportunity, and a friendly against the Democratic Republic of Congo in May could offer him a final chance to make an impression.
Azubuike Okechukwu has continued to impress with Yeni Malatyaspor in the Super Lig, but has surprisingly been overlooked by national-team selectors.
The Dream Team VI captain was tipped to become a mainstay in the Super Eagles following his superlative showing in defensive midfield at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but he’s failed to add to his solitary international cap since then.
Perhaps with an eye on the future, 20-year-old Okechukwu could be handed an opportunity to train with the Super Eagles and get some minutes under his belt in the pre-World Cup games.
Raheem Lawal, for some unknown reason, has failed to stamp his authority in the Super Eagles setup, having spent several brief spells in favour but rarely stringing together a series of matches.
Ever since his impressive showing at the 2011 CAF U-23 Championship in Morocco, Lawal has being tipped for success with the national team.
However, he has always narrowly come short of fulfilling that expectation, notably with his last-minute exclusion from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations-winning team.
Now 27, and getting regular playing time at Turkish strugglers Osmanlispor, the midfielder can realistically hope to earn a recall in time for the World Cup.
He could serve as a useful and experienced backup to Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi in the squad, but it must be admitted the aforementioned duo are more tactically disciplined.
Could Lawal’s versatility see him sneak into the fold?
Brown Ideye still remains in contention for a place on the 23-man squad for the World Cup despite his latest snub for the upcoming Nigeria international friendlies.
His experience in the Super Eagles’ attack is unrivalled, and perhaps the technical crew only afforded him an opportunity to get more match fitness and focus on the immediate relegation battle at Malaga.
A recall to the World Cup-bound team for Ideye can’t be totally ruled out, but a second successive omission from the tournament could signal the end of the 29-year-old’s international career.
Aminu Umar was steadily making a case for himself with the Super Eagles following four successive appearances, with the last of those coming against Luxembourg in May 2016.
However, a mixed performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics apparently gave Super Eagles technical crew second thoughts about the skilful attacking midfielder.
The recent maiden invitation of fellow Dream Team VI forward Junior Ajayi to the Super Eagles shows Rohr still monitors the exploits of that exciting group. It’s a glimmer of hope for the Osmanlispor man.
Abdullahi Ibrahim Alhassan: Had Ibrahim Alhassan remained on the books of Akwa United, he might have been contention to feature at the World Cup in Russia.
An impressive showing at the 2017 WAFU Nations Cup and 2018 African Nations Championship could have seen the attacking midfielder impress against his fellow home-based compatriots.
Now on the books of Austria Wien, Alhassan has settled into life in his debut season in Europe.
Given the rave reviews he earned last year with the Super Eagles after featuring in friendlies against Corsica and Togo, a last-minute call up for the exciting youngster can’t be ruled out.
Victor Osimhen: Nigeria’s World Cup squad is largely complete, with little realistic room for Rohr to pull too many surprises.
Subsequently, Osimhen may need something extraordinary to happen between now and the season’s end in order to make the plane.
However, his youthfulness and prior impressive performances in training with the Super Eagles, could afford him a slim opportunity to add to his two international caps.
Despite only playing 214 minutes of Bundesliga action so far this term, Rohr has previously spoken optimistically about the wonderkid’s international future and named him in his first Super Eagles squad.
ESPN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *