5 talking points from Super Eagles' 24-man squad for AFCON 2021 qualifiers against Sierra Leone
Gernot Rohr calls up 24 players for the games against Sierra Leone.
Nigeria will host Sierra Leone on Friday, March 27, 2020, in Asaba and travel for the return fixture four days later in a doubleheader.
These are five talking points from the 24-man squad.
1. Iheanacho gets another chance after Leicester City turnaround
Getting dropped from the squad for AFCON 2019 must have ranked in the lowest moments of Kelechi Iheanacho’s career. Everyone saw it coming.
He wasn’t getting much game time at Leicester City as he struggled to make any sort of impact. He was brought back in for a friendly game but was dropped again for the subsequent games.
The 23-year-old has however turned his Leicester City career around with some important contributions to the team since December 2019.
The good run of form for the Foxes started with an assist and the winning goal in 2-1 win over Everton in December 2019. Since then, the 23-year-old has scored three goals in three games against Aston Villa, and also goals against West Ham and Brentford.
His good form has now been rewarded with a recall to the Super Eagles.
2. Nigeria get another foreign-born player
The Super Eagles of Nigeria in recent years have seen a number of foreign-born players make their debuts. The Super Eagles squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup had four players who were born in foreign countries excluding Alex Iwobi who had represented England in the youth stages. There were three in the squad for AFCON 2019 not including Iwobi again.
Since AFCON 2019, Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo has joined that fold which will now include Belgian-born Cyriel Dessers who has been called up for the qualifiers in March.
Dessers plays for Heracles Almelo and is the current highest goalscorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 15 goals.
Born to a Belgian father and a Nigerian mother, the striker who has never played at any level for Belgium has chosen to represent his maternal side.
3. Debut call-up for Ehizibue
Another first-timer in the Super Eagles squad is Kingsley Ehizibue who plays for FC Koln in Germany. Born in Germany and raised in the Netherlands, Ehizubue plays as a right-back and will ease Gernot Rohr’s worries in that position.
He joins Dessers as another foreign-born player who has chosen to play for Nigeria and not their country of birth.
4. Super Eagles in good form
The doubleheader against Sierra Leone comes on the back of a good run for the Super Eagles. Since AFCON 2019, the Super Eagles have not lost in four games. In those four games, there were impressive 2-2 and 1-1 draws against Ukraine and Brazil respectively.
The two wins have come against Republic of Benin and Lesotho which put them on top of Group L of AFCON 2021 qualifiers.
5. No goalkeeper worries for Rohr
There will be no goalkeeper worries for Super Eagles boss Rohr who is without his first-choice Francis Uzoho.
The fantastic form of South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi who plays for Kaizer Chiefs will give Rohr confidence ahead of the games. Akpeyi has been in good form for South African Premier Division leaders Chiefs.
Akpeyi’s masterclass in the Soweto derby on Saturday, February 29 was a confirmation of how good he has been in recent months.
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