Which of Gernot Rohr’s inclusions will look forward to demonstrating their quality against Les Ecureuils?
Benin vs Nigeria
The Super Eagles travel to their West African neighbours seeking a victory that guarantees qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Cameroon next year.
After a couple of disappointing draws against Sierra Leone in the last couple of rounds in November, Gernot Rohr’s team generally have a point to prove in games vs Benin on Saturday and Lesotho next week.
With maximum points at Porto-Novo making sure of progress to the continental showpiece, which players will be out to put the record straight against the Squirrels?
While he’s already an established member of the Nigeria side, Osimhen has had a rough time with Napoli since returning from injury and coronavirus at the turn of the year.
The 22-year-old struggled for sharpness in front of goal after his return and has found himself out of Gennaro Gattuso’s XI in recent games vs Bologna, AC Milan and Roma despite ending an extended drought against the side from Emilia-Romagna on March 7.
Be that as it may, Osimhen was in amazing form in that ill-fated 4-4 draw vs the Leone Stars before suffering his injury (he’s scored one and set up two) and he’ll hope to put Benin to the sword on Saturday.
Brought into the squad following the injury to Samuel Kalu, Onyekuru’s Nigeria career hasn’t gone according to plan in recent years.
Having been predicted to take up the mantle from the now-retired Mikel John Obi and Victor Moses, the on-loan Galatasaray forward has seen his stock fall in the last couple of years and finds himself on his third temporary spell in Turkey after failing to thrive in Europe’s top divisions for varying reasons.
It remains to be seen if Gernot Rohr trusts the attacker against Benin but a strong showing definitely does his prospects in the national team a world of good.
The in-form Genk striker’s initial exclusion from the 24-man squad caused a stir among supporters of the side who felt he’d been harshly left out.
However, recent showings in the friendly vs Algeria in October and the cameo appearance vs Sierra Leone prompted a torrent of criticism of the target man.
He is unlikely to start vs Benin, but Onuachu will relish a chance to silence the critics if he’s given an opportunity to feature in any capacity.
After bursting onto the scene in the late 2010s, Ebuehi was hampered by a severe injury that saw him drop down the pecking order in the Nigeria side.
He was primed to become the nation’s principal right-back in 2018 but missed the entire 2018/19 campaign with Benfica due to injury.
Upon his return, Gernot Rohr has trialled several players in that position which remains up for grabs with nobody truly dominating in that role.
The German tactician may turn to Ebuehi against Benin and the on-loan Twente wide defender will hope for a better showing that what he produced on his last start—the friendly defeat by Algeria in October.
The Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper has been largely reliable since his debut against Brazil in October 2019 after Francis Uzoho’s horrific injury.
Despite being a steady pair of hands between the sticks, the return of Gernot Rohr’s designated number one means the 21-year-old faces a battle to retain his place in the team.
Given Rohr’s fondness for the APOEL goalie Okoye may even find himself out of the XI against Benin.
If he does feature, however, an immaculate performance will be beneficial if he’s to stay number one.