As Nigeria’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia continue, some players who have been part of the squad could miss out of the main show next year. Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD picks out 10 Super Eagles players who could be watching the Russia 2018 World Cup action from their couches next summer if they do not step up their game…
1. AHMED MUSA
Both with the Super Eagles and at club level with Leicester City, Ahmed Musa has lost his place in the first team squad and it will take more than his experience with the Super Eagles and his blistering pace on the flanks to earn him a seat on the flight to Russia with Gernot Rohr’s squad.
Musa has found game time hard to come by at club level and Leicester City’s new manager Claude Puel has even said he does not know what the former CSKA Moscow winger still has a future at the King Power Stadium. The January transfer window will offer Musa a route to seek first team action elsewhere to compete for a place in the Super Eagles star-studded attack for the World Cup.
2. BROWN IDEYE
Since providing that assist for Kelechi Iheanacho to score his first goal in the World Cup qualifier against Zambia in Ndola, Brown Ideye has been on the fringes and is now on the verge of missing out on the World Cup party in Russia.
The Tianjin TEDA striker was sensationally dropped from the preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup but earned a recall to the team two years later, featuring in three games (against Mali, Luxembourg and Zambia).
Ideye scored four goals in 14 games in the Chinese Super League but his fallout with former coach Lee Lim-Saeng saw him demoted to the reserves where he barely featured. A move back to Europe coupled with some brilliant performances could convince the handlers, who are still in search of a back-up striker for Odion Ighalo, that he (Ideye) deserves a place at least in the preliminary squad.
3. DANIEL AKPEYI
He is considered to be the second choice goalkeeper after Carl Ikeme but Daniel Akpeyi has failed to impress with his performances and also failed to take his chance when called up to man the sticks for the Super Eagles.
The Chippa United goalkeeper may battle with Dele Alampasu and possibly Dele Aiyenugba if invited for the final goalkeeper slot.
Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa look certain to make the list.
4. UCHE AGBO
The Standard Liege defender has not featured for the Super Eagles since he has been called up to the squad a year ago. That underlines how he is regarded.
Despite featuring regularly in the Belgian Jupiler League, breaking into the first team squad of the national remains a tough task for Agbo and that could ruin his chances ahead of the World Cup.
5. KENNETH OMERUO
The Kasimpasa defender lost his place in the heart of the Super Eagles defence and had not been considered until he was called in as a replacement for the injured Ogenyi Onazi for the last two games.
Omeruo’s performance against Argentina in a 3-5-2 formation was solid. With coach Gernot Rohr already satisfied with the trio of William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun and Chidozie Awaziem the battle for the final place for a centre half will be between Agbo and the 2013 African Cup of Nations winner, Omeruo.
6. HENRY ONYEKURU
Despite his rich vein of scoring form for Anderlecht, Henry Onyekuru may be left out of the Super Eagles final squad for the World Cup in Russia.
This is because of the quality of players he is up against in his position.
The 20-year-old will compete with the likes of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Anthony Nwakaeme and Kayode Olanrewaju for spots in the attack. And with Onyekuru not getting enough playing time to showcase his talent with the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr may not take a gamble on him.
7. KAYODE OLANREWAJU
Since he signed up for Manchester City and was shipped out on loaned to Girona in Spain, Kayode Olanrewaju has failed to hit the ground running in terms of goals in LaLiga.
Olanrewaju has only seen 12 minutes of international action since he made his debut for the Super Eagles in their 2-0 loss to South Africa in a 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Odion Ighalo is the Eagles first choice striker for the World Cup barring injuries so Olanrewaju still has the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho and Anthony Nwakaeme to contend with.
8. MIKEL AGU
Mikel Agu has made four substitute appearances for the Super Eagles since he made his debut in June against South Africa and has not been convincing in those games. With John Ogu’s performance in the two games against Algeria and Argentina, in that same role, the Bursaspor defensive midfielder’s place in the World Cup squad is under threat.
9. OGHENEKARO ETEBO
Since he shone in Nigeria’s 3-1 win over Algeria in Uyo, Oghenekaro Etebo has struggled to replicate the form that saw him make the headlines.
Etebo possesses a great bursr of pace that can power any midfield but will that be enough to displace his captain, Mikel Obi? No. He got his chance to play himself back into reckoning against Algeria but Etebo looked lost playing in the advanced midfield role.
10. ISAAC SUCCESS
If fit Isaac Success is one forward who would give Odion Ighalo a good fight in the striking role. But the Watford star who has been ruled out until he new year is not likely to make the Super Eagles preliminary squad.