5 key men for return match


Ikechukwu Ezenwa: There was excessive concern over who’d replace Carl Ikeme for the visit of the Indomitable Lions following the unavailability of Vincent Enyeama and the subsequent poor outing by Daniel Akpeyi in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa.

Ezenwa was selected to feature in goal against the African champions, and he didn’t disappoint. His level of assuredness and composure belied his inexperience at international level, and he has earned the right to start in Yaounde. Also, no one would refuse another chance to see his famed goals celebration in the return duel.

Leon Balogun: ‘Solid’ is a word that’s thrown around indiscriminately these days, but that’s the right adjective to describe Balogun’s impeccable performance in Uyo.

The Mainz defender was a colossal figure at the heart of the defence and snuffed out every Cameroonian attack.

Nothing went past the towering central defender, whose commanding display and grace on the ball saw the Super Eagles keep a deserved clean sheet.

He holds the backline together and he’s got to be one of the first names on the team sheet when both sides do battle in Yaounde.

Mikel John Obi: Having missed the disastrous Afcon qualifier against South Africa in June, the talisman returned against Cameroon and his display further emphasized his importance to the side. His class and composure with the ball at his feet was instrumental for the Super Eagles as he controlled the game, enabling the side to dictate proceedings.

He set up the opening goal and scored one himself… not bad for a player still finding his feet after a long term injury. The Tianjin Teda man will again be the side’s lynchpin in Yaounde, no doubt about that.

Victor Moses: Another major absentee from the loss against the South Africans in June, the wideman was menacing throughout the encounter against the Cameroonians owing to his decision-making, speed and direct running.

The Indomitable Lions couldn’t live with him each time he broke forward with pace. Besides his assist for Mikel’s goal (which was in fact a poor corner) and cleanly struck side-footed strike following a sweeping counter-attack, the forward was the initiator of most attacks as he took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Odion Ighalo: Make no mistake; this was Ighalo’s best game for the Super Eagles. His movement without the ball confused Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui and Adolphe Teikeu, who resorted to fouling the Changchun Yatai striker in the early stages.

The forward’s strength to hold off his marker before calmly finishing (on his weaker foot, it has to be said) was admirable and duly rewarded Gernot Rohr’s faith in starting the attacker. Provided he recovers in time from the injury that forced him off in Uyo, he’s got to be called upon to go again on Monday.


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