Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr made five changes to the side that beat the National Elephants of Guinea when Nigeria line up to play the Barea of Madagascar in their final Group B clash at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
His decision to rest key players signals the intention to have refreshed players for the upcoming clash in the knockout round as Nigeria aim to claim their fourth continental crown.
The German tactician who led the West Africans to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia rested Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi and fellow Premier League star, Wilfred Ndidi as the Nigerians aim to secure the top spot of Group B with one eye clearly on the upcoming round of 16 encounter which would take place next weekend.
The former Auxerre boss rested five key players to ensure that there will be fresh legs in every position when the players take the pitch again next weekend. Asides Ndidi and Iwobi, he rested goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, Kenneth Omeruo and Moses Simon who impressed in the win against Guinea. The boss also revealed that Jamilu Collins and Shehu Abdullahi who have been injured could return to the squad in the last of 16.
Final prep ahead of tomorrow’s clash vs #Madagascar #SoarSuperEagles #Team9jaStrong #TOTALAFCON2019 pic.twitter.com/ZhnkWy6Auf
— ?? Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) June 29, 2019
“They are having special training sessions with the physios and I hope that they will be available for the next game [Round of 16] not this one [against Madagascar],” he told media in his mandatory pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Madagascar. “[Madagascar game] is too short and we don’t want to take any risk.”
John Ogu, Samuel Kalu, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, and Mikel Obi came into the side after missing out in the win against Guinea. These players who will play in the game against Madagascar need to impress the Super Eagles manager in order to break into the first team and earn a place in the starting lineup for the next game.
While John Ogu, Samuel Kalu, and Ezenwa have not played in the tournament before the game against Madagascar, John Obi Mikel would also need to show that he is still the kind of creative midfielder that can lead the Super Eagles to further glory. However, the players rested would feel confident and glad that the manager, Rohr has faith in them to keep them fresh for the must-win last 16 clash.
If Nigeria finish top of Group B, they would face the best third-placed team from any one of groups A, C or D. Some of the possible opponents the Super Eagles could face include the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire and the Teranga Lions of Senegal -both of whom were considered favourites to win the tournament before it began.
Nigeria line up vs Madagascar: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Chigozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Ola Aina, John Ogu, John Mikel Obi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Samuel Kalu, Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa
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