The German tactician released the 23-man list of Super Eagles players to prosecute the September friendly and it has, expectedly, generated mixed reactions from fans of the darling national football team. That’s quite understandable.
Rohr had no room on the list for any home-based player operating in the Nigeria Professional Football League, chalked off an out-of-form goalkeeper and extended maiden invitations to two ‘little known” foreign-based players.
OFFICIAL: Super Eagles squad list for Ukraine friendly released.
• Maduka Okoye, Joe Aribo handed maiden call-up
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) August 14, 2019
Those kinds of decisions, if not all, are never going to satisfy ALL Super Eagles supporters.
However, beyond the heated arguments and the mild controversies, there are a few excitable issues that should not be overlooked or ignored.
The post-Mikel Obi era begins
After more than a decade of meritorious service, the former Chelsea midfielder said his goodbye at the end of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
It’s interesting to find out who will step into the big shoes the immediate past skipper left behind.
They really are big shoes. Mikel was never as gifted as Okocha or as charismatic as Sunday Oliseh, but he
led the Eagles brilliantly and his tenure went without any major controversy.
Ahmed Musa may take up the captain’s armband momentarily but any one of Troost-Ekong, Omeruo or Ndidi should be in line to take up the role on a permanent basis.
A couple of new invitees
Ike Ezenwa didn’t impress during the Nations Cup qualifiers. Francis Uzoho had a less-than-excellent outing at the World Cup. Daniel Akpeyi did no better at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Nigerians begged for a new keeper and now fans will be introduced to Maduka Okoye, the 19-year-old drawing rave reviews in Germany. It might be too earlier for the team coaches to throw him straight into the deep end of action but maybe, just maybe, the new Carl Ikeme is here.
— Maduka Okoye (@OkoyeMaduka) August 14, 2019
Glasgow Rangers’ Joe Aribo is the other player earning his maiden senior invitation. After a successful spell in England with Charlton Athletic, the 23-year-old has stormed the Scottish Premiership in a way that has not been seen for a long while.
Three goals and a couple of assists in only six matches from a midfielder, speaks positively of a player Gernot Rohr sees as the long-term successor to John Mikel Obi.
Joe Aribo has scored three goals in five Europa league appearances already this season
hoping the guy solves the nagging midfield problems in the team pic.twitter.com/d1oT3iW2Sh
— #SportHob (@TomiwaBabalola) August 14, 2019
The Golden Generation is finally here
Not since the Super Eagles squad of the earlier nineties has fans seen a young, group of talented, hungry players ready to shed sweat and blood for the fatherland.
Interestingly, more players in this bunch are playing in the biggest leagues in Europe than their counterparts did nearly three decades ago.
Nigeria’s First XI presently is a roll call of players mostly based in Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, and England’s Premier League.
— Imhons Erons (@Imhons) August 15, 2019
Osimhen is no Rashidi Yekini but he’s a natural goalscorer as well. We always knew it would be difficult to get another Emmanuel Amuneke but Samuel Chukwueze is coming on strong.
George Finidi still has no equal but who can bet against Henry Onyekuru not fulfilling his potential. There will never be another as gifted as Okocha but the legend’s nephew, Alex Iwobi, can be counted upon to improve and be productive in the coming years.
Jay-Jay Okocha, so good they named him twice. His bday is just another reason to watch his tango with Oliver Kahn 😍 pic.twitter.com/6WQvA92VB5
— David Kappel (@kappilinho) August 14, 2019
While Sunday Oliseh was a shining light for many years, Wilfried Ndidi is poised to shine brighter.
It’s exciting times ahead. The feeling is strong that if Gernot Rohr is able to find the right balance and get the best out of this pool of youngsters, starting with the Ukraine tie, then the height attained by the 90s Eagles will be the starting point for this Super Eagles.