The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia may still be six months away, but Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr will already be looking for potential members of his 23-man squad. Completesportsnigeria.com‘s JAMES AGBEREBI wonders if these FIVE experienced players could work their way back into the Super Eagles squad in time for next year’s showpiece…
Vincent Enyeama, 35, retired from international football after falling out with former Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh in 2015, but there have been serious calls for the goalkeeper to return for the 2018 World Cup.
In his absence, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme took over and impressed with his performances.
Unfortunately, all the talk of finally finding a reliable goalkeeper was shattered after Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukemia in July this year.
Ikeme’s unfortunate illness led to the emergence of the likes of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi who have failed to impress, which has led to clamours in some quarters for Enyeama’s return to the Eagles.
And after over seven months out due to injury, Enyeama made a return to action for the first time for Lille’s U-18s in their 3-1 win over Croix in the French fourth tier last Saturday.
Obafemi Martins’ last game for the Super Eagles was coming on as a 74th minute substitute for Ahmed Musa in the Super Eagles’ 2-0 home win against Swaziland in the second leg, second 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in November 15, 2015.
Since then he has not been considered for invitation by the Super Eagles coaching crew.
But back in his Chinese Super League club, Shanghai Shenshua, Martins was impressive as he scored seven goals in 13 league appearances last season.
And in the 2017 Chinese FA Cup final against Shaghai SIPG, 33-year-old Martins was instrumental as the club clinched their fourth cup win.
He scored a goal each in both legs of the Cup final which ended 3-3 on aggregate (Shanghai Shenhua won the first leg 1-0 and lost the reverse fixture 3-2).
Also, Martins was the highest goal scorer of this year’s Chinese FA Cup with six goals.
Bartholomew Ogbeche made his debut for the Super Eagles in a 1-1 friendly game against Paraguay en route to the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
The highlight of the friendly against Paraguay was Ogbeche’s spectacular bicycle kick which cemented his place in the squad for the World Cup.
Unfortunately, Ogbeche could not replicate his pre-World Cup performances as the Eagles crashed out in the group stage.
Ogbeche played for the Eagles up to 2004 but has been in international wilderness since then.
But there is a possibility that Ogbeche, now 33, could make a remarkable return due to his impressive goal scoring run in the Dutch top flight with Willem II Tilburg.
He has scored eight goals in seven league games this season and currently lies joint third in the Eredivisie top scorers chart, just two goals adrift of the top scorer.
Since departing Scottish champions Celtic for Hibernian in the summer of 2017, Efe Ambrose has become like a player reborn as he is currently enjoying his football.
Ambrose, 29, is ever present in the Hibernian team as he has played in all of their 18 league games this season.
He scored his first league goal of the season against his former club Celtic, starting the comeback in the game which saw Hibernian come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.
As reward of his impressive performances for Hibernian so far this season, on Tuesday, Ambrose was included in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Team of the
After impressing for Fulham in just one season, Sone Aluko moved to fellow Championship club Reading in the summer of 2017 and has continued from where he left off with the London club.
He has made 16 appearances out of Reading’s 21 English second-tier games so far this season, scoring two goals from his midfield position.
Aluko, 28, made his Super Eagles debut in 2009 in a 1-1 friendly draw against Republic of Ireland.
His last appearance for the Eagles was against South Africa in a 2015 AFCON qualifier in 2014 which ended 2-2 in Uyo.
Aluko scored the Eagles’ two goals but it was not enough to secure qualification for the Eagles.
Featuring regularly and impressing for Reading week in, week out could see Aluko get a surprise recall to the Super Eagles ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.