Samson Tijani - RB

‘Tijani a better replacement for Ndidi’ – Boboye backs ex-Nigeria U17 captain for Super Eagles role

Former Nigeria assistant coach Kennedy Boboye has backed ex-Golden Eaglets captain Samson Tijani to fill Wilfred Ndidi’s void in Gernot Rohr's team for the international friendly matches scheduled for October.

Goal confirmed Ndidi has withdrawn from next month’s games against Ivory Coast and Tunisia in Austria, after suffering a groin injury in Leicester City’s 4-2 victory against Burnley on Sunday.

Since he made his international debut in 2015, the 23-year-old has established himself as a pivot in the Super Eagles midfield and his absence has raised eyebrows.

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Aware of the crucial role Ndidi plays, Boboye - who is currently the head coach of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) outfit Awka United - suggested new invitee Tijani as a potential candidate to play in his absence amid experience concerns.

“Ndidi should be the only player actually playing that position in the national team. If he is injured, I think we should have a better replacement. The coaches working with them know,” Boboye told Goal.

“That position is where Oghenekaro Etebo has been played in more than three games for Nigeria so he can fill the void as usual.

“We have Samson Tijani, the Golden Eaglets captain who is playing regularly for his club in Europe and he is a better replacement if Ndidi is not there, though he might lack the experience. The advantage is that he's playing at his club and they can give him a guideline.”

Wilfred Ndidi, NeymarGetty

Tijani captained Nigeria to the U17 Fifa World Cup in Russia last year, and he is currently on a season-long loan at Austrian top-flight club Hartberg from RB Salzburg.

The 18-year-old midfielder has played four matches across all competitions this season, which include two Austrian Bundesliga games.

Unfortunately, Tijani was sent off on Sunday after receiving two yellow cards in Hartberg’s 2-0 defeat to Wolfsberger AC.

Nigeria face Ivory Coast on October 9 before tackling Tunisia four days later in Austria, however, Boboye feels the games are there to help the team bond after almost a year without international outings.

The former NPFL-winning coach with Plateau United also defended the omission of the home-based players in Rohr's 23-man team, as they await the Federal Government to lift the ban on football-related activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I'm not in support of inviting people who have not played in a while,” he added.

“When I saw the line-up, we have players in the list who have been contesting in Europe since their leagues started, unlike the NPFL players that have not played competitive football for more than five months.

“These are friendly games, just to see how we can combine the teams and get good performances in the two matches.

“They are not must-win games, we don't have anything at stake in those games but to see other players and see how they can blend into the Super Eagles.”