Ahead of the Super Eagles’ African qualifying Group B FIFA 2018 World Cup clash against Algeria, Completesportsnigeria.com’s JAMES AGBEREBI lists 10 players who should be considered for starting places against the North Africans as the Nigeria squad take shape for the World Cup…
HENRY ONYEKURU (Anderlecht)
Henry Onyekuru’s first invitation to the Super Eagles was in the 2-0 defeat to Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a Group E 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo in June.
But he did not feature as he was an unused substitute in the game.
He was however placed on the Eagles’ standby list in the double-header against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Despite not being invited for the last qualifer against Chipolopolo of Zambia, Onyekuru has not allowed it to affect his club performance for Anderlecht.
Since joining the Belgian champions on loan from Everton, Onyekuru has scored six goals in 10 league games so far.
The game against Algeria would be the perfect official debut for Onyekuru to show what he can do in fornt of goal for the Eagles.
JOHN OGU (Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Israel)
The Hapoel Beer-Sheva midfielder is yet to feature for the Super Eagles in the World Cup qualifiers despite being invited several times.
Ogu was in the squad for the games against Cameroon in both legs and against Zambia but did not see a single minute of action.
He remains a regular for Hapoel Beer-Sheva where he has scored one goal after six league games.
His last game for Hapoel was in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League home clash against FC FCSB which they lost 2-1 with him going off with a suspected knock.
With the World Cup ticket already secured, Ogu now has the opportunity to give the Eagles coaching crew something to think about in the midfield.
OLANREWAJU KAYODE (Girona, Spain)
After making his debut in the 2-0 defeat to South Africa in June, Olanrewaju Kayode has not been considered for invitation.
Kayode showed glimpses of what he can do when he was brought on in the game against South Africa as his speed and constant harrassment of the South African defence was evident.
It would not be out of place if he is given the chance to face Algeria as he could be a revelation for the team.
And since joining newly promoted Girona in the Spanish LaLiga on loan from Manchester City, Kayode is yet to miss a game.
He has played all Girona’s eight league games so far but has not scored his first goal for the club.
ANTHONY NWAKAEME (Hapoel Beer-Sheva)
Anthony Nwakaeme’s brilliant peformances in front of goal for Hapoel Beer-Sheva finally earned him an invitation to the Super Eagles.
Nwakaeme was among the 23 players invited by Gernot Rohr for the qualifiers against Cameroon in Uyo and Yaounde. He was also invited for the game against Zambia.
Unfortunately, Nwakaeme did not get the chance to play as he was an unused substitute in the games.
Making his debut against Algeria should be a near certainty as he can provide something different in the Eagles attack which has Odion Ighalo as the only out and out striker.
OLA AINA (Hapoel Beer-Sheva)
The former England junior international made his debut for Nigeria in the 1-0 win against Zambia in Uyo.
Giving a rookie his debut in such a crucial game would have stunned a lot of people but Ola Aina impressed with the little time he spent on the pitch.
A versatile defender who can play in either full-back positions, Aina will be provide good back-up especially in the right-back spot.
Against Zambia, Aina showed that he is not just all about defending as he raced forward and laid a good cutback cross which Victor Moses failed to finish off.
And the game against Algeria would be a good testing ground to really evaluate him.
MIKEL AGU (Bursaspor, Turkey)
Mikel Agu has come under serious criticism for his displays when called upon in the Super Eagles qualifiers.
Aside from the 4-0 win against Cameroon where he was not really examined properly, his performances in the games against Cameroon in Yaounde and Zambia in Uyo have not been encouraging.
But it could be argued that the nature of the games in Yaounde and Uyo ( versus Zambia) overwhelmed him hence is poor performances.
And the fact that he always get the nod whenever there is a substitution to be made in the Eagles’ midfield is an indication that the coaching crew have confidence in his ability.
Playing without any pressure, Agu should be given the chance to prove his doubters wrong one last time.
It would be surprising to note that Agu, playing for Bursaspor, made the Turkish Super League Team of the Week for last weekend, getting the highest rating of 9.3.
DELE AJIBOYE (Plateau United)
Another individual who deserves a look in for a place in the team against Algeria is Dele Ajiboye.
It is surprising that Ajiboye is just now being considered for Eagles invitation after emerging in the scene in 2007 with the Golden Eaglets.
Ajiboye was in the home-based Eagles squad that featured at this year’s West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations in Ghana, keepeing in one of the group games.
Also he helped Plateau United emerge champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League for the first time in their history.
Luckily for him, he was invited for the games against Cameroon and Zambia as one of the reserve goakeepers.
It would not be a bad idea if Ajiboye is thrust into goal against Algeria or even come in as a second half substitute to show the stuff he is made of.
The former Akwa United forward now plies his trade with Austrain top side Austria Wien.
Before signing for Austria Wien, Alhassan was invited for the Eagles’ friendlies against Corsica and Togo where he did well.
He was in the home-based team that qualified for the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) holding in Morocco.
Alhassan proved that he can be lethal in front of goal as he scored 12 goals for Akwa before joining Austria Wien.
And since joining Austria Wien, Alhassan has made four appearances, scoring one goal so far.
The lanky forward should be considered for a callup as he has shown in the past that he has a lot to contribute to the team.
KENNETH OMERUO (Kasimpasa, Turkey)
Since his last appearance in the 3-1 win against Algeria in Uyo, Kenneth Omeruo has not featured for the Super Eagles again in any competitive game.
Omeruo was invited for the game against Bafana Bafana of South Africa but did not play in the game.
Despite not being invited for subsequent national team games, Omeruo has been regular for his Turkish club Kasimpasa, appearing in five of their nine league games this season.
The Algeria match is the perfect opportunity to give the centre-back another opportunity.
OGHENEKARO ETEBO (Feirense, Portugal)
Oghenekaro Etebo’s last appearances for the Super Eagles were in the 2-0 defeat to South Africa in the 2019 AFCON qualifier and against Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in the 1-1 draw in Yaounde in a Russia 2018 qualifier.
At Feirense, Etebo is yet to miss any of Portuguese top flight game as he has appeared in all the club’s nine this season, scoring three goals.