- Samuel Ahmadu
#1 DROP THE DEADWEIGHT
This is a bit of a no-brainer, as culling five before travelling to London was always the plan. Aside Moses Simon, who has unfortunately been ruled out altogether, there are a few on the roster who have only served to take up space. Gernot Rohr indicated that the game against DR Congo was a chance to have a look at some over whom there are question marks, and a few of those who haven't done enough to impress to date won't still be with the squad by the time the England game rolls around.
#2 SET-PLAYS! SET-PLAYS! SET-PLAYS!
We saw some concession to the unusual as the Super Eagles opened the scoring against DR Congo in Port Harcourt on Monday. The set-piece routine did not look like it came off quite as perfectly as envisioned on the training pitch, but it does give an indication that Gernot Rohr is looking in that direction. It seems that, for so long, using set-pieces has been a weakness for the national team. In a tough group at the World Cup, Nigeria will need every advantage they can get.
Similarly important will be setting the team up to defend dead-ball situations. Iceland, in particular, have a lot of prowess in that area, and it would be in Nigeria’s interest not to show any weakness leading up to the Mundial.
#3 REMAIN PATIENT WITH NDIDI
The move over to London from West Africa has long been viewed as the marker for getting down to brass tacks. As much as possible, Rohr will want to begin working with his starting 11, of which Wilfred Ndidi is very much a part. However, the Leicester City man has been nursing an injury, and while the prognosis has had him being ready to face the Three Lions at Wembley, the coaching crew must resist the temptation to rush him back.
His presence within the team is vital, but it would be unwise and disastrous to risk aggravating things and having him miss out altogether. Only use him if absolutely certain.
#4 LET’S SEE OUR STRONGEST
It’s not unreasonable to expect that, with two friendlies left, Super Eagles fans ought to see their strongest side against England. That ought to give some clue as to the side that will kick off against Croatia.
Some experimentation around team shape would not be out of place, but the time for chopping and trying out fringe players is most definitely over. It is vital they build up the required chemistry, and offer the nation a glimpse of what to look forward to. Captain John Obi Mikel, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses, Bryan Idowu, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses should all start.
- Getty Images
#5 MAKE A DEFINITIVE STATEMENT IN THE GOALKEEPING SITUATION
For those who read between the lines, it ought to be clear by now that Rohr has made his decision regarding who will start between the sticks at the World Cup in Russia.
Deportivo’s Francis Uzoho has been in goal for the Super Eagles for the last 225 minutes of friendly action, while his closest competitor (on paper) Ikechukwu Ezenwa has not been glimpsed since the final qualifier against Algeria.
Rohr has stuck with Uzoho through the inevitable teething problems, and was rewarded with a calmer performance on Monday. Surely, it would deal an even greater dose of confidence to publicly acknowledge the obvious. There appears little point to publicly saying the position is in a state of flux, when actions and decisions point in the opposite direction.