Nigeria’s home based senior national team trained for the first time since dispatching Equatorial Guinea on Friday as they buildup to their quarterfinal clash against Angola.
The team arrived one of the training pitches at the Stade Ibn Batouta at about 4:30pm local time (kick off time on Sunday) and trained for about ninety minutes under the watchful eyes of Coaches Salisu Yusuf and Imama Amapakabo while the goalkeepers were drilled by Alloy Agu.
Our Chief Football Writer FISAYO DAIRO was at the training session and made notes on some happenings and his notes:
Injury scare for defensive duo
Football is a contact sport and as such we may not do without one or two players receiving knocks or requiring attention although the Eagles have been very careful in training thus far.
Friday’s training was however a very serious one and two of the players had scares. First it was Daniel Itodo, the first choice left back who collided with a teammate within the opening 25 minutes and was checked by the team’s physio. He did not take part in the training further as he was excused by the coaching team, apparently as a precaution.
When I met him on his way to the bus earlier than others, he said “No problem. I dey fine bros, no wahala.” Let’s hope so.
The other scare came when Emeka Ogbugh and Timothy Danladi came together at about one hour into the session. The Katsina United defender came off worse in what looked like a shoulder problem. That was also his last participation in the session.
Eneji pushing for first appearance
Enterprising winger, Peter Eneji is yet to participate in this tournament due to the injury he sustained when the team were still in Abuja. Journalists here have quizzed Salisu Yusuf at every given opportunity about likelihood of Peter’s participation.
On Friday, he trained normally with the team, more than ever. He, in my opinion looked sharper than before and scored a couple of fine goals in the team’s rolling 5-A-side kick about.
Dayo Ojo is a master hitter
During the team’s shooting practice session, we all saw once again how blessed a hitter Ekundayo Ojo is. His worldie of a goal against Equatorial Guinea is still very fresh in our minds and on Friday, Ojo hit no fewer than three long range efforts accurately into the top corner. Man is a born hitter.
Tony Okpotu also showed why he is so trusted by the coaches as he consistently finds the back of the net, a direct opposite of Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, who like the Mikel of the “main” team struggled to hit target during the session.
Orji Kalu Okogbue is also one that stood out in training with his class and intelligence.
Let’s hope these guys can replicate some of these things on match day. 5:30pm (WAT) is the time on Sunday.
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Tangier, Morocco