Ezenwa Gets Nigeria’s Number One Jersey

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* Avita resort in Austria excites Eagles, team officials

Femi Solaja

Following FIFA’s official confirmation of all players of the 32 teams that will play at the World Cup in Russia, Enyimba’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa is to wear Nigeria’s Number one shirt at the Mundial kicking off in barely nine days from today.

However, Coach Gernot Rohr’s body language indicates Deportivo La Fabril’s Francis Uzoho is top in the pecking order of the goalkeepers in Eagles camp. The Franco-German coach has consistently relied on Uzoho as first choice in all the Russia 2018 warm up games played by the three-time African champions to date.

Ezenwa was between the sticks for the rest of Nigeria’s qualifying matches when first choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, was diagnosed with Leukaemia after the game against Swaziland and Zambia in Ndola.

Uzoho has been allocated the shirt Number 23. The third goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi is to wear shirt Number 16.

According to the tradition in Eagles the number one choice keeper is to wear purple shirt and shorts while the second choice will wear orange shirt and shorts. The third goalkeeper in the pecking order is to don the light grey attire during Russia 2018.

Nigeria’s first opponents at Russia 2018, Croatia , has dropped Matej Mitovic as the final 23-man squad was announced on deadline day. Coach Zlatko Dalic, who had named one extra player in his provisional squad yesterday dropped the defender.

Mitrovic had not played for Belgian champions Club Brugge since April 19 and Dalic said that was one of the reasons he was dropped.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and since the beginning I was saying that one defender will be removed and I stuck to that,” Dalic told reporters. “This is my choice and I stand by it.”

Meanwhile, players and officials of the Super Eagles are pouring encomiums on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for doing the needful to secure the world-renowned Avita Resort in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Austria for the team’s final camping programme before the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.

“This place makes a whole lot of sense. I am truly impressed. The Nigeria Football Federation has improved so many things around the team, in terms of organization and logistics.

“Whoever choses this place paid attention to details. We are happy here,” Captain John Mikel Obi said yesterday at the camp.

The Super Eagles, arrived the Avita Resort on Sunday evening after the 2-1 defeat it suffered in a tune-up game against England at the Wembley Stadium to a very warm reception by the people of Bad Tatzmannsdorf. They are to spend eight days at the resort perfecting strategies for the FIFA World Cup finals.

On Wednesday morning, the Eagles will travel the one-hour distance by road to Vienna, where they play the Czech Republic at the Rudolf Tonn Stadion. They will return to the resort immediately after the match

EAGLES AND THEIR SHIRT NUMBERS

23 – Francis Uzoho

16 – Daniel Akpeyi

1 – Ikechukwu Ezenwa

5 – William Troost-Ekong

6 – Leon Balogun

12 – Shehu Abdullahi

2 – Bryan Idowu

21 – Tyronne Ebuehi

20 – Chidozie Awaziem

22 – Kenneth Omeruo

3 – Elderson Echiejile

17 – Ogenyi Onazi

4 – Wilfred Ndidi

19 – John Ogu

15 – Joel Obi

10 – John Mikel Obi

8 – Oghenekaro Etebo

18 – Alex Iwobi

14 – Kelechi Iheanacho

9 – Odion Ighalo

13 – Simeon Nwankwo

7 – Ahmed Musa

11 – Victor Moses