By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
With November almost gone and the Venezuela victory in the bag, Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi and his assistants must definitely have an inkling of 20 of the 23 players that will make up the Eagles squad to South Africa.
Nigeria will be hoping to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time in the Rainbow Country, beginning from January 19 and Goal.com, looking through its crystal ball, has come to a list that the coaches may settle upon.
Austin Ejide | Pushing Vincent Enyeama for the goalkeeping slot
There is no gain saying the fact that Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide and Chigozie Agbim will be the goalkeepers in South Africa. What is left for goalkeeper coach Ike Shorunmu to do is recommend who will be the number one amongst these three.
Though never convincing as Super Eagles goal tender until the game against Venezuela, Ejide showed enough to suggest that he will push Enyeama hard for the starting berth. He was quick off his line, commanded his goal area very well and communicated at all times to the central defensive pairing of Godfrey Oboabona and Azubuike Egwueke, who together looked nervous throughout the encounter.
Ejide made many saves and made sure that the Eagles won that friendly encounter. Enyeama has been a bit wobbly of late and may be giving the coaches an opportunity to replace him though he commands the respect of his team mates while Agbim will just have to continue to grow and hope that whenever he is called upon, he justifies it.
Goal.com choices – Austin Ejide, Vincent Enyeama and Chigozie Agbim
Joseph Yobo | He will lead the Eagles defence in South Africa
Defence is a problematic department for the coaches, with the right full-back a particular bother. Against Venezuela, Solomon Kwambe showed enough intelligence to stipulate that he might just make it into the team.
Joseph Yobo has come back from injury and should be 100% fit for the Afcon while the likes of Efe Ambrose, Oboabona, Elderson Echiejile and Juwon Oshaniwa are all in reckoning and Taye Taiwo could be a surprise inclusion at the last minute
Oboabona will make it because of his versatility while Elderson seems to have the left back position pinned down.
Goal.com choices – Joseph Yobo, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwueke, Elderson Echiejile, Solomon Kwambe, Efe Ambrose and Juwon Oshaniwa
Nosa Igiebor | The new creative force in the Super Eagles
The names are endless here but since this is not tennis, it is the combination that will be on the coach’s mind. One person that will command a starting place immediately is Mikel Obi. Another quagmire is whether the Chelsea man will be the deepest defensive midfielder but that is for Keshi to sort as he is the one paid the big bucks to think it through.
Joel Obi seems to have dropped off the radar because of injuries and Ogenyi Onazi is pushing really hard to make the team and he may, considering his goal and not really his all-round performance against Venezuela where he showed too much impetuousness in making tackles.
Obiorah Nwankwo is also a good ball winner and a contender. Kano Pillars’ Reuben Gabriel is another good choice who also offers a goal threat against opponents - but that is if he gets over his injury scares.
For his display against Venezuela, Nosa Igiebor should also be another automatic choice with Henry Uche, another home based player who might also make the 23-man squad. Ejike Uzoenyi may likely get the last slot.
Goal.com choices – Mikel Obi, Obiorah Nwankwo, Reuben Gabriel, Ejike Uzoenyi, Nosa Igiebor and Ogenyi Onazi
Ikechukwu Uche & Ahmed Musa | Nailed down shirts for South Africa
In this department, the coaches are really spoilt for choice but one fact that showed clearly against Venezuela is that Shola Ameobi should be in the Nigerian team to South Africa.
The Newcastle striker offers a dimension that is currently missing in the team – the big man can operate from the flanks and centrally.
Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses and Ikechukwu Uche, barring any last minute injuries, are certain to get on the plane to South Africa. Obafemi Martins will have to fight it out for a place in the team with Emmanuel Emenike - with the Levante man just shading it because of experience and the number of goals he has scored for the national team.
Goal.com choices – Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Brown Ideye, Shola Ameobi, Ikechukwu Uche, Peter Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins
This is not conclusive but Goal.com will be surprised if 90% of the players mentioned above are not part of the 23 that will be in South Africa.