Eagles Watch

Russia 2018: My position on Rohr’s 30-man squad


With Adebayo Olodan

After what seemed an endless wait, Coach Gernot Rohr last week, released the list of a 30-man provisional squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Though the German did well by adding a number of new names to the squad that prosecuted the World Cup qualifiers, I however have some reservations on the provisional squad. There are some names I believe should have been considered ahead of a number of players that made Rohr’s squad. Those missing players if added would have provided stiff and healthy competition in the squad with barely three weeks to the trip to Russia.

Topping the list of those absentees is former Kaduna Utd skipper and presently Hibernian defender, Efe Ambrose. Efe who played in the heart of defence for his Scottish club appeared to have hit form at the right time and should have been rewarded with a call-up. Aside the fact that he impressed in the just ended season, the former U-23 player is highly experienced in addition to his versatility.

Efe can operate as a right-back or a defensive midfielder in addition to his natural centre back role.

With Leon Balogun only recently returning from an injury and his centre back partner, William Troost-Ekong confined to the bench due to poor form, Rohr would have done well by adding the highly experienced Efe to his squad. Should any or the two of Rohr’s first pairing centre backs fail to regain full fitness, the Super Eagles will have to depend on a largely untested and inexperienced partnership of Stephen Eze and Chidozie Awaziem. With such defence at the biggest stage of football, it is likely that the team will concede goals in buckets.

Also, former Enyimba left-back, China Akas deserved to be named in place of the largely ineffective Elderson Echiejile.

Ever since the former Super Eagles home-based captain joined Swedish club, Kalmar FF, Akas’ stock has continued to rise and his invitation would have been more deserving than that of Echiejile who has suffered a blip in form and now plays second division football in Belgium!

Upfront, Rohr did the needful by inviting Simeon Nwankwo to the team despite not earning any cap till date for the Eagles. The Crotone player is undoubtedly Nigeria’s best striker in any league abroad in the last two months and with seven goals to his name in two months in the Series A, Simy surely deserved his place in the squad. I expect the former Gil Vicente striker to push the largely experienced Odion Ighalo for a place in the starting line-up in Russia.

However, the gaffer did the needful by extending invitation to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer, Junior Lokosa. The young man has largely impressed with 18 goals so far in the domestic league. It will not be a surprise if he eventually make the final squad.

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