Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr led out a full complement of players of the senior national team for the first time in this international window on Wednesday as they intensify preparations for Saturday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifier against Zambia.
Following the arrival of Chelsea’s Victor Moses, all twenty three invited players as well as two on standby participated in the training session under the supervision of head coach Rohr.
Having stayed a few more minutes inside the team bus to lace their boots on arrival, the players went straight into business on the practice pitch, dividing themselves into a group of six players each doing the “pig in the middle” routine. It was done for about fifteen minutes amidst lots of laughter.
The team then converged for more instructions on the next routine which was a more stressful possession-based exercise with four small goal posts aimed at. The highlight here was Odion Ighalo’s goal after Mikel had stylishly set him up.
While the 22 out field players participated in it, the three goalkeepers, Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Dele Ajiboye were drilled by the goalkeeper trainers Alloy Agu and Enrico Pionetti.
The last segment of Wednesday’s training saw the team engage in a training match which ended goalless after about 20 minutes.
An example of the competitive friendliness saw Oghene Etebo rather forcefully dispossess Kelechi Iheanacho down the touchline and with the Leicester forward displeased at the manner of the tackle, they ended up embracing eachother.
Etebo was however involved in the highlight of this session when Ezenwa punched a lofted ball into his path at a considerable range. The former Warri Wolves star carefully weighted his effort over the everyone inside the box but was unlucky to see his effort come off the cross bar.
Akpeyi: Aina, Agbo, Awaziem, Ogu, Agu, Etebo, Mikel, Simon, Moses, Ighalo
Ezenwa: Shehu, Ekong, Balogun, Echiejile, Onazi, Ndidi, Iheanacho, Nwakaeme, Iwobi, Musa
Few of the players, especially captain John Mikel Obi and Israel-based duo Anthony Nwakaeme and John Ogu spared some time after the session to take pictures with their fans.
The team will train at the mainbowl of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Thursday evening after a media parley earlier in the afternoon.