Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr last week averred that his side are not ready yet for this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, and rightly so. With players still busy at their respective clubs for the season’s run-in and any kind of eventualities being anticipated – be it positive or negative – no team can be said to be ready for the Mundial.
With forty-four (44) days to the start of the quadrennial championship, Mr Rohr at this stage definitely has in his mind, a list of untouchables who will be at the World Cup regardless of what their form would be in the preceding weeks to the team’s pre-tournament camp – after all, form they say, is temporal.
One of such players expected to be a sure starter for the Super Eagles in Russia is Netherlands-born defender William Troost-Ekong.
‘Troost’ as he is called in short among Nigerian fans has been one of the most consistent figures since the German trainer, Rohr took charge of the Eagles in 2016.
Troost-Ekong who plays for Turkish side Bursaspor was the only player that completed the full ninety minutes in all of Nigeria’s World Cup qualification group stage games and his dependability has seen him captain the team against Poland in their penultimate friendly in March, less than three years after his debut for the Super Eagles.
2017/18 has been a stellar season for the Tottenham Hotspur trainee as he did not only qualify for the World Cup with Nigeria during that period but he also assumed an untouchable height with his Turkish club, playing for the entire duration in twenty-one out of the first twenty-two league games before a red card against Galatasary in February truncated that run.
As the season wound down in Turkey, the board of Turkish club Bursaspor became impatient with club manager Paul Le Guen, dismissing the Frenchman with six games left to play in the league season. That sacking has since seem to have a telling effect on Troost-Ekong’s appearances with the club as interim manager Mustafa Er has shown no faith in the former Haugesund defender.
Although he was dropped for the club’s first game under Er, Bursaspor still erred in their 2-1 loss to Goztepe, but that did nothing to convince the 38-year old coach to restore Troost to the lineup for their next league game which Bursaspor won convincingly 4-1 against Kardemir Karabukspor – a result that eased their relegation fears.
On Monday night, Bursaspor hosted Konyaspor with William Troost-Ekong once again named among the substitutes alongside his Super Eagles teammate Mikel Agu (only Abdullahi Shehu has featured regularly under Er in recent weeks).
With the hosts leading 2-0, coach Mustafa Er was forced to call on Troost in the 85th minute to make his first appearance under him as centre back Ertugrul Ersoy – scorer of Bursaspor’s second goal – came off worse in a collision with Bursaspor goalkeeper Harun Hekin. Although they held on for a 2-1 win, it was just barely as the visitors threatened to equalise late on.
? OYUNCU DEĞİŞİKLİĞİ
— Bursaspor (@BursasporSk) April 30, 2018
Here is where the worry lies; there are three more matches to end the Turkish Super League season and with Bursaspor not entirely safe from relegation, there is every possibility that Er will retain the same back four which he has used in his three games in charge, for the upcoming games.
Nigeria now run the risk of having the Super Eagles’ most consistent defender in recent times in dire need of match action before taking on the rest of the world in Russia. With a goalkeeper short of top flight action poised to be in goal for the Eagles, Troost-Ekong’s situation will definitely interest Gernot Rohr as the day of reckoning approaches.