Head coach of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr is facing a ‘positive’ dilemma over who to start as right back in the team’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 opening game against Burundi in Alexandria on Saturday, reports www.aclsports.com
The German coach has been keeping a lot of his cards close to his chest in the buildup to Nigeria’s first game in Africa’s flagship footballing event but the full recovery of his first choice right back Abdullahi Shehu from illness has left him with lots to ponder on before finalising his starting eleven for Saturday’s game.
Torino of Italy star Ola Aina had featured in Nigeria’s two pre-tournament friendlies (against Zimbabwe and Senegal) while Shehu was kept away due to illness. Aina’s place for the opener is now under serious contest with the availability of the former Kano Pillars star.
In other positions, it seems pretty certain that Rohr will go for the more active duo of Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong at centre back with Leon Balogun who missed the loss to Senegal expected to start from the bench while Jamilu Collins should take his automatic place at left back.
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Also, contrary to reports in the media that Rohr could drop Arsenal star Alex Iwobi for Stoke City’s Oghenekaro Etebo, the Franco-German actually seems to have found a way to accommodate both players by opting to field Iwobi in the left wing role he is familiar with at Arsenal.
In the meantime, Villareal’s prodigiously talented star Samuel Chukwueze is poised for the joker role in the Super Eagles as Rohr believes the pace and trickery of the 2015 Under-17 World Cup winner would be an asset to bring on from the bench starting from the game against Burundi.
Nigeria’s opening Group B game is slated for 7PM local time (6PM) in Nigeria at the resplendent Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt on Saturday.
Our Unconfirmed XI:
Akpeyi; Shehu, Omeruo, Ekong, Collins; Mikel, Ndidi, Etebo; Iwobi, Kalu, Ighalo.