PRE-WORLD CUP

  •  Another chance for injured Moses Simon
  •  Lokosa, Ajiboye, two others dropped

Duro Ikhazuagbe

The picture of Nigeria’s squad to the World Cup in Russia became crystal clear yesterday following the release of a 25-man Super Eagles list by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Expectedly, the list was dominated by the usual suspects who have established their presence in the team since Franco-German Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr took charge of the senior Nigerian football team in 2016.

Captain John Mikel Obi is leading the squad which is arguably Nigeria’s youngest team ever to the Mundial. Also in the list are the likes of Assistant Captain, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo. The quartet are the remnant of the Stephen Keshi’s Eagles to the last World Cup in Brazil four years ago.

Chelsea wing back, Victor Moses who did not feature in the tune-up game with DR Congo last Monday in Port Harcourt is to link up with the squad in London today for another warm-up game against the Three Lions of England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.

Enyimba FC’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa who took charge of the goal area after Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with Leukeamia is the only player from the domestic league in the Russia-bound team. The other goalkeepers selected are Deportivo La Coruna’s Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi of South Africa’s Chippa United.

Abdullahi Shehu, Olaoluwa Aina, Tyronne Ebuehi, William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Chidozie Awaziem, Elderson Echiejile, Kenneth Omeruo, and Bryan Idowu make up the list of defenders Rohr will rely upon to shield his goal area from any harm.

The midfield have Mikel, Onazi, Wilfred Ndidi, John Ogu, Mikel Agu, Joel Obi and Oghenekaro Etebo.

Musa, Moses, Alex Iwobi, Simy Nwankwo, Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon make up Eagles strike force to battle Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of Russia 2018.

Moses Simon, who was earlier ruled out of the finals due to injury, will undergo further medical checks in the United Kingdom to ascertain the seriousness of his injury.

Plateau United’ goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye, NPFL leading scorer, Junior Lokosa, Bulgaria-based defender Stephen Eze and Uche Agbo of Standard Liege were the players who were eventually dropped from the trip to England to end their World Cup aspiration.

Rohr was reported to have met with the players one-on-one to inform them of his decision before the final list of 25 players was announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles who flew out of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja yesterday afternoon are to train at the Wembley Stadium (venue of Saturday’s clash with England’s Three Lions) between 5pm-6pm on Friday, after a pre-match press conference scheduled for the Stadium’s conference room at 4.15pm.

Saturday’s encounter, the third official match between two countries with considerable historical affinity, will start at 5.15pm Nigerian time.

THE TEAM

GOALKEEPERS: Francis Uzoho; Daniel Akpeyi; Ikechukwu Ezenwa

DEFENDERS: Abdullahi Shehu; Olaoluwa Aina; Tyronne Ebuehi; William Ekong; Leon Balogun; Chidozie Awaziem; Elderson Echiejile; Kenneth Omeruo; Bryan Idowu

MIDFIELDERS: Wilfred Ndidi; Mikel John Obi; Ogenyi Onazi; John Ogu; Mikel Agu; Oghenekaro Etebo; Joel Obi

FORWARDS: Odion Ighalo; Simeon Nwankwo; Alex Iwobi; Ahmed Musa; Kelechi Iheanacho. Moses Simon (further checks in the UK); Victor Moses (to join team in London)