Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr stuck with his regulars for the double header 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Libya.
However Newslegend.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI in this piece takes a look at the five players whose impacts could be telling in the next instalment of the international break.
1. Moses Odubajo (Brentford, England)
The Brentford right back was considered for an invitation sometime ago by the Nigerian Federation but an injury put paid to that plan.
Now back playing again, it will be nice to have this British-born Nigerian commit his international future to Nigeria.
Odubajo is a good right back with good positional sense and strong in the tackles.
Waiting for an opportunity in the England national team is not on the menu as he cannot dislodge the trio of Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander Arnold and Kieran Trippier.
Shehu Abdullahi is currently first choice at the position for the Nigerian national side but rarely has a good back up.
Ola Aina was ponderous in his defending in the 4-0 mauling of Libya on Saturday at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium and has not covered himself in glory in the games he has played for Nigeria.
2. Anthony Ujah (Mainz, Germany)
Anthony Ujah has not been part of the Nigerian national team set up for about three years but his form thus far is not be ignored.
The striker has scored twice in six German Bundesliga matches and ought to be handed another opportunity.
Ujah’s return could be a spring in the steps of Odion Ighalo who scored a hat trick in the 4-0 romp over Libya on Saturday.
The introduction of another striker strutting his game in a competitive league as Germany during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers could only serve to increase Nigeria’s striker options and improve those lucky with invitations.
3. Azubuike Okechukwu (Pyramids FC, Egypt)
Former Nigeria U-23 Eagles captain Azubuike Okechukwu is closer to home and closer to Sfax, Tunisia where Tuesday’s reverse fixture against Libya will hold.
The defensive midfielder has terminated his contract with Turkish side Yeni Matalyaspor before the move to the Egyptian league.
Okechukwu is a no nonsense defensive midfielder and could provide competition and cover for the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Ogenyi Onazi, John Ogu and Oghenekaro Etebo.
Ndidi was yellow carded when the Mediterranean Knights were defeated and (hopefully not) another card on Tuesday will rule him out for the very important grudge AFCON qualifier against South Africa in November. That is a quick reminder why the Eagles need good options.
4. Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba, Nigeria)
Francis Uzoho is now the undisputed first choice Nigeria goalkeeper, the likes of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi seem not to have any chances unless the Elche goal minder is injured or suspended.
Most Nigerian fans cannot fathom why Ezenwa keeps getting invitations to the Eagles when Afelokhai is the man keeping him away from the goal post for their club, Enyimba.
Afelokhai has been in splendid form in the CAF Confederation Cup and keeping him away when form and consistency ought to be considered for invitations to the national team is unjust.
5. Ikouwem Udoh (Enyimba, Nigeria)
Concluding this is another Enyimba star – Ikouwem Udoh.
There is a new star on the block, Jamilu Collins whose debut was promising against Libya but he needs to be on his toes and not feel too comfortable.
Udoh has been immaculate in the CAF Confederation Cup and is the skipper of the Nigerian U-20 national team, the Flying Eagles.
His performances speak for him and again there is no justification not to extend an invitation to this player – who may not necessarily start against South Africa in November or Seychelles next March.
Udoh offers defensive astuteness and attacking impetus down the left back.
His invitation will mean bringing to the team the very best players in their positions.
Note: This piece was originally written by Izuchukwu Okosi for www.allnigeriasoccer.com