As Nigeria’s Super Eagles get set to take on the Pirates of Seychelles at the Linite Stadium in Victoria on Saturday in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match, Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD highlights five players who are looking to prove that they are relevant to the team against some critics’ beliefs.
Ogenyi Onazi (Midfielder)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is one tournament Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi will love to forget in a hurry. The 25 year old did not feature in any of Nigeria’s three games as the team crashed out in the group stages.
With the absence of John Mikel Obi, the game against Seychelles will offer Onazi an ample opportunity to stamp his lost authority on the team as the Super Eagles fight for their first win of the qualifiers in Victoria. The former Lazio star has been in rich vein of form for his Turkish club scoring a goal in his last five games for the club.
Odion Ighalo (Striker)
Odion Ighalo also had a FIFA World Cup tournament to forget. The Changchun Yatai striker failed to live up to expectation for the Super Eagles before they crashed out in the group stages of the tournament.
Despite his poor outing in Russia, Ighalo has been in splendid form for his Chinese Super League team, Changchun Yatai this season scoring 16 goals in 21 games. But he will be fighting to banish the jinx that has seen himm failing to score for the Nigeria in nine games
Ighalo’s last goal for the Super Eagles was in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cameroon in Uyo on September 1st, 2017.
He is expected to be fired up to add to his tally of four goals at the international level for Nigeria.
Chidozie Awaziem (Centre-Back)
The FC Porto centre-back has featured as an unused substitute for Nigeria since his poor display against Serbia in a friendly in London prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 21 year old is expected to break into the starting line-up of the Super Eagles with the absence of William Troost Ekong, but he will have Kenneth Omeruo to contend with.
If he gets the nod ahead of Omeruo, this fixture will give him a chance to prove he is fit enough to claim his spot in the squad
Awaziem has only three caps to his name.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Striker)
Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho has been one of Nigeria’s prolific forwards under Gernot Rohr. Infact, Iheanacho’s pile driver against Tanzania gave Rohr his first solitary win over the Taifa Stars.
He has scored eight goals in 20 appearances for the Super Eagles.
However, since his goal against Argentina in an international friendly in Krassnodar, the 21 year old has gone seven games without a goal for Nigeria.
The former Manchester City forward has also played as a substitute in his last seven games for Nigeria.
The game against Seychelles in Victoria will offer him an opportunity to prove that he is capable of keeping his place in the Super Eagles’ starting lineup.
Kelechi Nwakali (Midfielder)
Having found first-team opportunities hard to get at Arsenal Kelechi Nwakali was finally shipped off to FC Porto B this summer.
The 20 year old midfielder made a scoring debut for the Super Eagles B team in their 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in May.
Nwakali jnr must capitalize on the chances presented to him to slot into the main Super Eagles’ team in the absence of skipper John Mikel Obi. His performances for the Super Eagles against Seychelles would decide his future in the team.
A stellar performance can help him get more opportunities with the three time African champions.