Nigeria play host to the Leone stars of Sierra Leone at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin city, before travelling to Freetown, Sierra Leone on the 17th of November for the second leg of the group L encounter. Nigeria currently sit top of the group with six points in two games, Sierra Leone having just one point in two games. The first time this two locked horns was in 1949, with Nigeria winning that encounter 2 goals to nothing. They are therefore familiar foes.
Gernot Rohr has his hands full for this fixture, with certain players impressing in the friendlies against African champions Algeria and the Carthage eagles of Tunisia. Predicting Rohr’s starting eleven is a tough ask, but let us paint a mental picture, judging based on how some players fit into the coach’s system.
Maduka Okoye has been the apple of Rohr’s eyes ever since his astounding debut against brazil. The 20 year old featured in October’s back to back friendlies, his composure in goal makes country men believe they have found one who will fill in the gloves of the legendary Vincent Enyeama. The German born is coming into the fixture on a high after helping his club side Sparta Rotterdam secure a victory and also keeping a clean sheet in that fixture.
The defensive line is likely to have the “Oyinbo wall”, William Troost – Ekong and Leon Balogun. The duo have built over the years a level of understanding, with Kenneth Omorueo not making the squad due to injury, the wall stands. Chidozie Awaziem and Ola Aina should complete the four man back line.
Ndidi is still out on the sidelines, with a groin injury he sustained in Leicester’s 4-2 win over Burnley. This gives room for Oghenekaro Etebo, who will take up the role as a defensive midfielder. Alex Iwobi has not been enjoying playing time under Carlo Ancelotti but the love Rohr has for him is unconditional. Joe Aribo has been explosive for the Super Eagles ever since he pledged his allegiance to play for the country. His quick feet and ability to split open any defence makes him an important player in the team. The trinity of Alex, Etebo and Joe will be a determining factor as to whether or not Nigeria churn out goals against Sierra Leone.
The Nigerian attack should see Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukweze and Ahmed Musa the captain of the side.
Rohr wants an early ticket to AFCON 2022 and will be hoping to fire at all cylinders, a 4-3-3 formation will definitely keep the Leone stars at bay.