New players fight for positions as Super Eagles battle Algeria in Austria
Written by MaryGift Sunday on October 9, 2020
Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr will be watching out for the players among the new recruits who can make the national team stronger when Nigeria meets Algeria in an international friendly in Austria today.
The German will file out a team complete with a new trio of goalkeepers and up to five players looking to play their way into the heart of the national team selectors.
The Eagles will play without striker Victor Osimhen, midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo, and regular goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, and Daniel Akpeyi. Vying to impress in their positions are goalkeepers Maduka Okoye, Dele Alampasu, and Mathew Yakubu. Also on the verge of making their Super Eagles debut are Cyril Dessers, Chidera Ejuke, Zaidu Sanusi, Frank Onyeka, Samson Tijani, and former Germany U-20 captain, Kevin Akpoguma.
The Super Eagles last training session indicated that Everton midfielder, Alex Iwobi could be supported in the midfield by new kid, Frank Onyeka, and returnee, Mikel Agu.
Apart from the new boys, Kelechi Iheanacho and Tyrone Ebuehi are back in the team hoping to do enough in this game and Tuesday’s match against Tunisia to earn a permanent position in the squad.
Iheanacho was left out of the team to the 2019 African Cup of Nations because of poor form while Ebuehi is coming back from more than one-year injury-induced absence.
Coach Gernot Rohr is using the friendlies to put his team in good shape for the forthcoming AFCON and World Cup qualifiers and to also see what the new boys will bring to his team.
Algeria, who have a second game against Mexico in The Netherlands on Tuesday, come into today’s game not only as of the champions of Africa but also on the back of an 18-match unbeaten run.
They have not lost on the pitch since they were bumped by the odd goal in an AFCON 2019 qualifier away in the Benin Republic in October 2018.
Two years earlier, they were beaten 3-1 by the Super Eagles in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Uyo. Both teams ended the return leg in Constantine 1-1, though the Eagles had already picked the only World Cup ticket from the group ahead of that final encounter.
Djamel Belmadi, the former Algerian international who coached his country to a second continental title in Egypt last year, has included standout names Riyad Mahrez, Yassine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli, and Baghdad Bounedjah in his 24-man squad to confront the three-time African champions.
The game, like Tuesday’s, will kick off at 8.30pmAustria time (7.30pmNigeria time).
The match, earlier scheduled to hold at the Jacques Lemmans Arena in the Austrian state of Carinthia, which contains only 2,420 spectators, has now been moved to Worthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, with 30,000 seating capacity.
No reason was given for the change in the match venue.
The Super Eagles trained only ones yesterday ahead of the clash against scheduled to kick-off by 7:30 p.m. Nigerian time.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles have dismissed reports in some quarters that some of the players in the team’s Austria camp have tested positive for COVID-19 as reported by a section of the media yesterday. The report said four players tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 and had to undergo another round of testing.
Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, expressed dismay over such reports, noting that results of the tests carried out on the players were being awaited yesterday.
He wondered how the players could test positive for the virus without the result of their tests.
“Please discountenance reports that some of our players tested positive to COVID-19 ahead of tomorrow’s friendly game against Algeria. It is a blatant falsehood.”
“The writer of the story, who was not part of the press conference earlier today, totally misrepresented what Coach Rohr said.
“Rohr said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, four of our players had tested positive, but we’re all now fully recovered from the virus and back in action.
“The results of the COVID-19 tests carried out on the Super Eagles ahead of tomorrow’s game are still being awaited,” Ibitoye said.