Nigeria’s all important 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa holds on Saturday at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg and most of the Super Eagles stars that will be on duty this weekend played for their clubs.
Newslegend.com.ng’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI looks back at some of the talking points from what happened (or did not).
1. Akpeyi Playing But Ezenwa, Afelokhai Not
Chippa United’s Daniel Akpeyi may not be Nigerians’ favourite goalkeeper but following the injury sustained by first choice goal minder Francis Uzoho, Akpeyi is the only keeper among the three keepers for Saturday’s game who was in action for his club.
While the duo of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Theophilus Afelokhai are not able to play for Enyimba FC of Aba since the Nigeria Professional Football League is not going on, Akpeyi who had an injury scare towards the end of the game but thankfully finished stood up after the medics’ attention had a splendid game for his South African club, playing 90 minutes in the scoreless draw against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.
2. Time For Omeruo To Break The Ekong, Balogun Partnership?
The central defence is a position that does not require too many changes and that is the narrative for the duo of William Troost Ekong and Leon Balogun.
However Balogun has rarely played for Brighton while Omeruo who is apparently third choice central defender for Gernot Rohr has become a regular for his La Liga side Leganes who drew goalless away at Girona.
It does raise the question of whether consistency should or should not be a yardstick for player selection.
- Onyekuru Red Hot For Bafana Test
Galatasary thumped Keyserispor 3-0 on Saturday in the Turkish Super Lig and Super Eagles striker Henry Onyekuru scored a brace to send a serious warning to South Africa defenders ahead of the weekend’s AFCON qualifier that he can comfortably replace injured Odion Ighalo.
Onyekuru’s performance was rewarded as he made the Turkish Super Lig Team of the Week – and his instinctive finishing, selflessness and speed will hopefully come to the fore in the big match.
4. Super Eagles Will Miss MoTM Ndidi Vs South Africa
Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi has been chided by some sections of the Nigerian fans for his “needless” yellow card received against Libya in the return leg of the fixtures with the Mediterranean Knights which rules him out of this game.
Ndidi duly made the Premier League Team of the Week and also the European Team of the Week for U21s in Europe’s top five leagues by statistics website, Whoscored.com after his fantastic performance in Leicester’s 0-0 draw against Burnley.
Ndidi’s defensive and break playing abilities will be sorely missed by the Eagles who will be without skipper John Mikel Obi or even Ogenyi Onazi who it must be noted had an average game against Yeni Malatasyaspor with an error leading to one of the opposition’s five goals.
5. Nwakaeme For Wing Role?
Anthony Nwakaeme was in action in Trabzonspor’s 5-0 defeat away to Yeni Malatyaspor on Saturday and was deployed on the left side of attack in their 4-2-3-1 formation.
Nwakaeme chipped in some good crosses and on a few times found himself playing axially albeit and although Trabzonspor were poor in the game Nwakaeme who is primarily known as a striker being deployed on the wings does suggest that he is adaptable and perhaps is an outside choice for Gernot Rohr.