Ahead of Nigeria’s crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup game against Iceland, Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD presents five players Gernot Rohr’s men must look out for when they file out out at the Volvograd Arena against the Vikings from 4pm today…
Date of birth: Sep 8, 1989 (28)
Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson will once again be the focal point of this Icelandic side against Nigeria after their impressive debut draw with Argentina. Though not fully fit, his presence in the middle of the park and his threat in dead ball situations will pose a big threat to the chances of the Super Eagles midfield and chances of qualifying for the round of 16. If Iceland are to impress against Nigeria, he will be vital.
Date of birth: Apr 22, 1989 (29)
Club: Cardiff City
A tough-tackling midfielder, Aron Gunnarsson tireless runs must be matched by Nigeria’s ‘lightweight midfield’. He is the second most capped player in the squad and the fact that he is the captain makes him the player the Eagles must subdue to get through to the Iceland defence and score. The Super Eagles must also avoid conceding throw-ins around their box as he also launches effective long throws which could lead to goals. Remember the Super Eagles are vulnerable at set-pieces. He also leads his team and fans in a slow clap and chanting ritual with echoes of New Zealand’s rugby haka.
Date of birth: May 27, 1988 (30)
Club: Aston Villa
Birkir Bjarnason is one of Iceland’s midfield enforcers, one who has an ability to contribute goals. Bjarnason instills energy into the Icelandic team breaking plays and also launching attacks. Whoever gets the nod to start in midfield for the Super Eagles will have his work cut out against the Aston Villa midfield enforcer.
Date of birth: 27 April 1984 (34)
Club: Randers FC
Backed by staunch defensive efforts from his defenders, Hannes Halldorsson did not only stop Lionel Messi’s penalty in the 64th minute to secure his team an impressive 1-1 draw against favourites Argentina, he also made seven saves in that encounter. The 34 year old plays for Danish side Randers and he is a part-time film director. He oversaw the video for Iceland’s 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.
Date of birth: 29 June 1984 (34)
With over 60 international caps to his name, Emil Hallfredsson is one the most experienced members of the Iceland squad. The midfielder has the ability to dictate the play, knowing when to speed the pace up or slow it down. He showcased his this against Argentina where the Vikings got a point in their debut last Saturday. If he is allowed time and space on the ball he could hurt the Super Eagles with his clinical passes and runs from midfield.