Predicting Keshi's World Cup Squad

In this feature, Goal Nigeria present one writer's preliminary Super Eagles World Cup squad of 30. How does this selection compare to yours?

By Ed Dove

Stephen Keshi’s announcement of Nigeria’s preliminary squad of 30 or 38 is almost upon us, in this feature I profile the players I would take in my preliminary World Cup party.

Over the last few days, many Super Eagles fans have been using the app I have created to present their own choices for the preliminary 30.

I will analyse and comment on the fans’ choices presently, so make sure you choose your team from the options available. In the meantime, please check out my squad of 30 below.

You can find the Squad Selector here: Nigeria 2014 World Cup Squad Selector

Spoilt for choice | Keshi has a multitude of options

Vincent Enyeama- While other African nations (particularly Ghana) face doubts about the identity of their Number One, the Super Eagles have no such fears with the continent’s finest between the sticks. 

Austin Ejide- Nigerians should be wholly confident that should some misfortune befall Enyeama, we boast, in Ejide, a more-than-able deputy. 

Chigozie Abgim- I know, I know…there’s a case to be made for another stopper, such as Carl Ikeme or Theo Afelokhai, but Agbim, despite his failings, is a comfortable, uncontroversial member of the squad who is highly unlikely to be called upon. 

Godfrey Oboabona- Inspired confidence in performances against luminaries such as Mario Balotelli and Didier Drogba and should use the World Cup as a launchpad for a move to one of Europe’s major leagues. 

Kenneth Omeruo- Despite calls for Joseph Yobo to be reinstalled alongside Oboabona, I am confident that Omeruo will be up to the task. The last six months at Middlesbrough should have prepared him well. 

Elderson- He hasn’t played as much as he’d like at Monaco, but Elderson interacts well with Victor Moses and will be an important attacking weapon for Nigeria. 

Efe Ambrose- Offers big-game experience and is an important presence both defending and attacking set-pieces, he should relish the reunion with Messi in Porto Alegre. 

Taye Taiwo- Surely the best left-back we’ve got beyond Elderson. Taiwo offers a valuable attacking threat and 50 caps’ worth of experience.

Azubuike Egwuekwe- I would have loved for Keshi to have incorporated the likes of Kenneth Otigba, Tiago Ilori or Derik Osede into the squad with an eye on the future. In their absence, I expect another call-up for the Warri Wolves skipper. He is a dependable presence and enjoys a good understanding with Oboabona.

Joseph Yobo- There are definitely issues here, but if Nigeria’s record cap holder can sacrifice himself for the good of the squad, then he can be a valuable source of experience and could help to stabilise the side late in games.

Leon Balogun- Balogun should be allowed to prove his fitness in the pre-tournament friendly games. If he can make the cut of 23, he will be steady cover for centre or right-back.

Could this be Nigeria's Starting XI against Iran on June 16?

Ogenyi Onazi- One of the revelations of the 2013 Cup of Nations, the Eagles’ engine could make a similar impact in Brazil. An irreplaceable foil for Mikel. 

John Obi Mikel- The team’s emotional heartbeat. Might well look to demonstrate his creative prowess and attract suitors during the tournament. Internazionale are watching. 

Sunday Mba- He may just have endured relegation from Ligue 2, but that’s hardly Mba’s fault. The AFCON hero has impressed in France and shouldn’t be judged on his inactivity during 2013.

Raheem Lawal- It’s a mystery to me that this versatile performer hasn’t been more present in recent times. He fits the ‘Keshi mould’ and can fill in at right-back or in central midfield. 

Lukman Haruna- Recent reports linking Haruna to Europa League finalists Sevilla are testament to his qualities. He is a dynamic operator who boasts World Cup experience and can help out across the midfield, giving the Super Eagles much-needed drive through the centre.

Ramon Azeez- While I would love to be able to put Joel Obi, Nwankwo Obiorah or Hope Akpan, Azeez gets the nod as he’s already sampled life with the national side and is enjoying a strong finsh to his La Liga campaign with Almeria

Ejike Uzoenyi- Nigeria aren’t blessed with too many players who can offer both genuine width and are comfortable on the left. Uzoenyi, who starred at the recent Championship of African Nations, provides both.

Nnamdi Oduamadi- Admittedly, criticism has come his way, and he was poor when played out of position against Italy, but Oduamadi can provide goals from midfield and was a match-winner in the tense post-AFCON qualifier against Kenya in Calabar.

It's not so easy to be the Big Boss

Victor Moses- A disappointing season can work both ways, but don’t be surprised to see Moses respond to his struggles on Merseyside with a strong showing in Brazil. His pace and direct running should be effective in keeping opposition defences on the back foot. 

Emmanuel Emenike- Anyone who witnessed the disappointing showing at the Confederations Cup will know just how important Emenike is as the Super Eagles’ spearhead. He was the AFCON top scorer and a game-changer in the play-off against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. 

Ahmed Musa- Could the young forward be Nigeria’s secret weapon this summer? He may be inconsistent, but his pace and imagination might be vital in wide or central positions. 

Victor Obinna- Another versatile option who fits into Keshi’s fluid ambitions for the forward line and proved his worth in the second-leg play-off against Ethiopia. 

Peter Odemwingie- I have been a very vocal critic of those seeking to view Odemwingie as the saviour of the Super Eagles after scoring five goals in the Premier League in his last 26 games, however, he might be worth assessing in the initial party of 30. If he even so much as breathes out of line though…and I mean it…he’d be first out of the door!

Chinedu Obasi- Now recovered from the injuries that affected him for so long, the Schalke hitman has been on the scoresheet for his club in recent months and is one of the few Nigerians who featured in the latter stages of the Champions League. He is capable of playing across the forward line. 

Sone Aluko- Another injury may have put paid to his potential presence but when fit, the Nigerian forward has demonstrated an ability to cope comfortably with the demands of the Premier League this term. A risky inclusion, but Aluko’s ability to play across the forward line might reward Keshi.

Shola Ameobi- Not a prolific goal-scorer by any standards, but Ameobi does offer a valuable aerial threat and has adapted well to the demands of international football over the last 18 months. He impressed against Italy and should travel.

Victor Anichebe- A wiser bet, however, might be Anichebe, who is younger, more mobile, and more versatile than Ameobi. I would love to see ‘Big Vic’ be given the chance to show the wait was worthwhile.

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