Players of Nigeria’s senior national team, the Super Eagles are in confident mood ahead of Friday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions.
Both teams face-off in the southern Nigerian city of Uyo in a first installment of the dual clash between the two African football powerhouse in four days. Nigeria currently have maximum points from their two group games and sit four points ahead of Friday’s foes Cameroon.
Five players turned up alongside head coach Gernot Rohr for the team’s official pre-match briefing on Wednesday at their Le Meridien Hotel base in the outskirts of Uyo.
The sextuplet were clad in simple t-shirts branded “Stay strong Ikeme” at the front with a picture of Woverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme on top of it.
“We put this t-shirt to show our solidarity for our teammate who is sick,” said Rohr at the start of Friday’s press conference.
“We want to show him that we are with him, to tell him to be strong. I was there (with him) already and I could tell him already, directly (personally) that we are with him and all our team on Friday will be playing for him,” added the former Burkina Faso coach.
The five players present at Wednesday’s press conference were led by team captain John Mikel Obi who earlier this month made a successful return from a lengthy injury layoff for Chinese side Tianjin TEDA.
The former Chelsea star was joined by another player returning to the team after injury, Mainz 05’s Leon Balogun as well as Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, first-time invitee Anthony Nwakaeme and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
With many of the invited players just returning from injuries, Rohr however expressed delight at the fitness level of the players after Tuesday evening’s full training session.
“We have 24 players who are fit for these games, we’ve been preparing since Thursday with the player that arrived from China and the rest followed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We have put all these together already and we are ready to make a great match against Cameroon. We have experienced players returning and new players that are strong and we have a good spirit,” said Rohr.
With Rohr’s confirmation that FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa will start in goal for Nigeria on Friday after Daniel Akpeyi suffered a relapse of an injury on Tuesday, the Football Federation confirmed on Wednesday that Plateau United goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye who was earlier placed on standby will replace him in the team.