Friday 14 June 2019

/ by Colin Udoh
Isaac Success, left,is on the outside looking in as Nigeria head to Afcon

Gernot Rohr’s picked his squad and the Super Eagles are already in Egypt enjoying sunshine, water and beach while going through their paces as they prepare to make a run for a fourth African title.
For the second tournament in a row, there has been next to no complaint about the German’s squad selection, a far departure from what used to happen in the past. Is that due to a dearth of quality talents, or simply a consequence of Rohr’s consistency in squad selection?
No matter. There are still naturally some players who missed out of the 23 and we decided to draw up a sit of the Nigeria Best XI who did not take it into the squad.
Would any of these have made a significant difference? Is the squad poorer for the absence of any one of them? Who would they have replaced?
This list is limited to players who have been called up by Rohr, but feel free to suggest any outside of that

The Missing XI
GK: Theophilus Afelokhai
Enyimba’s first choice goalkeeper just edges Dele Ajiboye here. His firm grip on the top spot forced Ikechukwu Ezenwa to look elsewhere for first team football and he has just helped Enyimba to another title but failed to make it past Rohr’s standby list

RB Tyronne Ebuehi
Tyronne would arguably have been in the squad were it not for the ACL injury that he suffered at the World Cup in Russia. 

LB Bryan Idowu
Starting left back at the World Cup, Idowu has disappeared from the national team in just the same way as he dropped in, with little fanfare. His stock dropped gradually to the point where he was no longer a factor for Rohr.

CB: Stephen Eze
Title winner with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Eze has been called up by Rohr but there was little chance he was going to dislodge any of the current centrebacks. At least, not at this time

CB: Valentine Ozornwafor
One of the more recent call-ups to the Super Eagles, and an under 20 international from the recent World Cup, Ozornwafor like Eze stood next to no chance of dislodging the current group of centrebacks

MF: Mikel Agu
Long touted as one who could possibly claim one o the midfield roles as his own, Agu disappointed when he came on as an early sub prior to the World Cup His chances do not seem to have recovered. He was also named on the standby squad.

MF: Ogenyi Onazi
Onazi used to be one of the first Ames on the team sheet until a disastrous game against England in a pre-World Cup friendly. That cost him his starting place and he did not see action at all a the world Cup. There were reports of a falling out with Rohr, but his absence is mostly down to a long term injury that is currently recuperating from.

MF: Junior Ajayi
The Al Ahly star has only been called up a couple of times but was on the standby squad named by Rohr. 

FW: Kelechi Iheanacho
By far the biggest name on the list. A year ago, few would have dreamed this. But it is a sign of how low his stock has fallen that Iheanacho’s place in the squad has been taken up by two players whose combined senior caps can be counted on the fingers of one hand

Kelechi Iheanacho, right

FW: Simy Nwankwo
Nwankwo was expected to be the next great striker after his performances at Crotone, but he never quite hit it off with the Super Eagles despite making it to the World Cup.

FW: Isaac Success
England appears to be the grave of talented Nigeria junior internationals. Along with Iheanacho, Success was in that under 17 team which conquered the world and between them they were expected to rule the Eagles roost for a long time to come. 
Instead, both players find themselves out in the cold
Must be something in the water. . .

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