Today’s international friendly match between the Super Eagles and the Teranga Lions at the Hive Stadium in London may not be a make or mar encounter, however, it would go a long way in accessing certain players between both teams ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers later this year.
SOCCERNET.COM.NG in its usual ways X-ray some of the five things to watch in this mouth-watering encounter on Thursday.
BLOODING IN YOUNG TALENTS
The Super Eagles will be using this encounter to evolve newly invited players such as Joel Bazee, Tyronne Ebuehi, Kayode Olarewaju and Isaac Success in to the team. Players such as Olarewaju and Success are not strange to Nigerians due to their familiarity with the Nigerian football; however, Bazee and Ebuehi, who are just having a taste of African football, will be hoping to adjust with the new system different from where they grew up (Holland and Germany respectively).
All the four players are expected to display an appreciative performance against Senegal that will convince the Super Eagles technical crew led by Gernot Rohr considering the fact that, the battle for regular shirt will be competitive.
SEARCH FOR NEW STRIKERS
Despite the team’s impressive performance at the ongoing 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the senior national team have often struggle for goals because they don’t have a potent striker like late Rashidi Yekini that regularly bang in goals for the team at will whenever he dons the green and white colours of Nigeria.
With the likes of Odion Ighalo and Brown Ideye failing to hit the height expected from the team, the decision of the technical crew to invite Hannover 96 striker, Joel Bazee, Kayode Olarewaju and Isaac Success could be a right decision, in the right direction.
Olarewaju has been banging the goals in the Autrian Bundesliga side Austrien Wien this ongoing season while Bazee and Success have shown great goal scoring potentials for Hannover 96 and Watford. If any of the above strikers eventually makes a dream debut by way of scoring against the Teranga Lions, then it would serve not just as a relief for the Rohr but also, create more option for him in the absence of Ighalo and Ideye.
CAN EZENWA AND AKPEYI DEPUTIZE FOR IKEME
Except Carl Ikeme pass a last minute fitness test, he may miss tonight’s encounter against Senegal. The Wolverampton Wanderers goalkeeper, who has become an integral part of the team since the retirement of Vincent Enyeama had a slight knock, which could give way to Daniel Akpeyi and the only Nigeria Professional Football League goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa to mane the goalpost.
Both goalkeepers have been impressive anytime they’ve been called upon to the team. Akpeyi was in goal when the Super Eagles defeated the Desert Foxes of Algeria 3-1 in Uyo last year in a 2018 World Cup qualifier and commanded a good performance.
BATTLE FOR PRIDE BETWEEN NIGERIA/SENEGAL
There is no doubt that the Super Eagles have dominated the Teranga Lions of Senegal having won eight, lost four and drawn three of their last 15 encounters in all competitions. The match may be considered as a friendly, however, the two teams knows that a win won’t only help the confidence of the team both also, preserve their pride in the continent.
One encounter that most Nigerians won’t forget with ease was the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations that was co-hosted by Nigeria/Ghana, where the Super Eagles needed the inspiration of ‘super-sub’ Julius Aghahowa to score two late goals after the Teranga Lions had taking the lead in the first half.
BATTLE OF PREMIERSHIP STARS
Apart from being an heavyweight clash, it will also be a parade of stars of sort as both teams are loaded with players who play their trades in top European clubsides. Most importantly, both teams will feature Premier League stars such as Man City’s Kelechi Iheanacho , Leicester City duo of Wilfred Ndidi, Ahmed Musa, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, West Ham’s Ceikhou Kouyate, Hull City’s Alfred N’Diaye and Mame Biram Diof.