7 Fringe Players Facing Big Test For Super Eagles’ Final 23-Man World Cup Squad

7 Fringe Players Facing Big Test For Super Eagles’ Final 23-Man World Cup Squad

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will play their third pre-World Cup friendly game against DR Congo in Port Harcourt next on Monday. Completesportsnigeria.com‘s JOHNNY EDWARD presents seven players who must prove themselves to stand a chance of making the final 23-man squad to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

1. Junior Lokosa (Kano Pillars)


The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer, Junior Lokosa, will get his chance to prove his mettle when he features for the Super Eagles in Monday’s international friendly in Port Harcourt.

The striker has become one of the most talked about footballers in the NPFL and he needs to prove it against DR Congo. The 25-year-old failed to impress in training playing from the flanks. However, acquitting himself well against DR Congo will confirm his readiness to cope with the pressure if selected in the final squad, and he can still mature as a star in the Super Eagles.

Zenith Ziva

Lokosa has scored 18 goals so far for Kano Pillars in the Nigeria Professional Football League.

2. Simy Nwankwo (Crotone)

Despite scoring a cheeky goal so far in training for the Super Eagles, Simy Nwankwo’s wealth of experience playing in the Italian Serie A will be needed if he gets the nod to lead the Super Eagles attack against DR Congo.

The 26 year old striker scored seven goals for Crotone who were relegated to the Serie B. A sterling performance on Monday against DR Congo will definitely boost his chances of making the Super Eagles final squad to the World Cup.

3. Tyronne Ebuehi (Benfica)

Tyronne Ebuehi was a special player for ADO Den Haag until he departed for Portuguese side Benfica. Ebuehi’s exceptional overlapping skills combined with his ability to deliver quality crosses makes him one of the rising stars in Europe.

Ebuehi’s high-point was when he was nominated by VoetbalPrimeur as one of the ten best right-backs in the just concluded season in the Netherlands. The 22 year old will however face stiff competition from Ola Aina and Shehu Abdulahi.

4. Mikel Agu (Bursaspor)

Though he has been part of Bursaspor’s main team for a while until he lost his place when Paul Le Guen was relieved of his job, Mikel Agu’s ability to dictate the pace of the game and his other qualities will be put to an acid test when he features for Nigeria against DR Congo.

Agu has not been a first team regular at Bursaspor since Le Guen was sacked after less than a year, and he has been frustrated by the lack of playing time towards the end of the season. The 24-year-old can also fulfill his desire to get selected for the Nigerian squad to the World Cup, not far if he can be a nightmare to the opposition.


5. Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes)

After a terrible display against Serbia, Chidozie Awaziem must prove that he could be relied on if he gets the nod to feature for Nigeria in Monday’s international friendly against Dr Congo.

The three cap Nigeria international will battle Kenneth Omeruo, Stephen Eze and Uche Agbo for one of the two available slots in the central defence role.

6. Stephen Eze (Locomotiv Plodviv)

Stephen Eze’s intelligent interceptions and tackling earned him a place in the provisional squad. His height is one that every coach will fancy for the central defence role.

Eze has grown into a dependable defender with a fantastic understanding of the game since he joined Locomotiv Plodviv. The 24 year old has continued his impressive run in the Bulgarian League, and a good outing against DR Congo will enhance his chances of traveling with the squad for the high profile international friendly against England on June 2.

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7. Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)

Dele Ajiboye has consistently dlivered in his duties for Plateau United in the Nigeria Professional Football League which earned him a place in the provisional squad list.Now, he faces a challenge of displacing any of the three goalkeepers in camp; (Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi).

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  • Don’t understand why you keep referring to Awaziem as fringe player. I hope you know that he is ahead of Omeruo and Aina. Rohr rates him high and he has made team of the week numerous times.

  • Ayphillydegreat 3 years ago

    Oga Johnny I have a sense that these are the players that will most likely be dropped. However, Ebuehi, Simy, Awaziem and Ajiboye still have something to prove. If Awaziem will be battling with Agbo then I will prefer Chidozie ahead of him. A player that plays in a top five league deserves to be in the WorldCup squad. If Ebuehi will have to battle Shehu and Aina for one spot then one of him and Aina will be dropped. I don’t see GR dropping Shehu by any stretch of imagination.

    Eze reminds me of the great Gentle Giant. He’s a prospect to be reckoned with, but he can’t displace anyone at the moment in the heat of defense. He plays in the same club with Musa Muhammed who went there on loan in the just concluded season. So I think the experience gathered in the training camp will help him towards the AFCON next year.

    Simy Nwankwo has been turning heads in camp with his frame and composure in front of goal. Although he faced an uphill task to displace any of Moses, Musa, Iwobi, Iheanacho, Ighalo and Simon. However, something tells me that if he put up an outstanding performance against DRC, someone might be dropped for him.

    Ajiboye seems not to be fully trusted by the technical crew, but IMHO I think he should be the number one goalkeeper in these SuperEagles judging by his pedigree. Meanwhile the frame of the young Uzoho is difficult to ignore and I’m ok with him as the number one goalie going to this WorldCup, but I will take Ajiboye ahead of both Ezenwa and Akpeyi all day everyday.

    Everything goes down to the gaffers decision. #FLY LIKE AN EAGLE INTO THE FUTURE# THE WINGS OF AFRICAN PRIDE.

  • two players not mentioned at all, but surely need to prove their points are omeruo and elderson echedile, they are of course, very experienced and expose, but, so also are ideye and kayoed that were not even listed, there two – omerou and echedile are not in right class or is it frame for the world cup at the moment. i see coach rohr dropping at least one of the them, either of aina and ebuechi will also drop. eze is most sure to drop. i wish Lokosa will make it, it is difficult, the coach seems committed to those that played in the qualifiers, that explains why agbo, ogu and agu are in the team in the first place ahead of the nwakalis, for sure, the coach, will keep the old horse, he seems shy of taking risk at this point, remember, he did with South Africa at the qualifiers, it burnt his fingers, he played with the omeruo, awaziem, that goalie from South Africa, what his name again, and that was his first defeat, he tried again against Serbia , you all remembered the result, don’t expect surprises in the first selection. the goal seemed ready for even an unfit ighalo than take risk at this poin

  • any of those 30 players dt ar not injury free sud b drop.

  • Editor kindly remove that light guy name (Ebuehi) from the list.He will surely make the list 100% sure barring any inJury to him cos he is d only natural right back in the team.

    • Emmanuel 3 years ago

      You spoke well ebuehi is the natural right back in the team and he deserve everything’s in world cup 23 men list.

  • Abegi, Abegi, na God I take beg you, Oga Johny Edward, stop mentioning Tyrone Ebuehi in your list of fringe players. You dey make me para for this kind of one-sided analysis. Mention Ajiboye, Lokosa, Simy, Aina etc, but shine your eyes well and stop mentioning Ebuehi (and even Eze) in that group. Biko! Don Allah!

    Haba, shey if you be coach, you go drop Ebuehi ni? A natural talent. Abi, na only be don watch all these guys in their clubs and national team matches? Chief, Aina is standing on one leg, same thing with Ajiboye, Simy, Lokosa and 3 others. Maybe Joel Obi.

    Thank you for your understanding. You just make me boil inside nah nah. 🙁

  • Mr Johnny you failed this one, Akpeyi and Ajiboye will fight for the remaining goalkeeper slot. As Uzoho and Ezenwa are sure candidate for the world cup. In defence, Eze and Uche will be dropped bcos I don’t see them displacing any of the three central defenders called up. In midfield, Mikel Agu will wait for next world cup. In attack, Lakosa and Simmy should take this world cup training as a big step in their career. So Akpeyi/Ajiboye, Eze, Agbo, Agu, Lakosa, Simmy and idowu.

  • Igallo ve not scored in training  .simmy ihaenacho  I hear scored. Pls oga tell us

  • ogie samuel 3 years ago

    Aina ebuehi most not me dropped for any reason they are young energetic and each of them had a gud season with their club ,abeg make naija nor kill ebuehi career oooo just sign with benfica one use world cup prove point cos u drop ebuehi the guy fit vex go play for Holland,remember Neva make he competitive debut oooo,Costa play friendly match for Brazil,we all no how d story take end

  • emmanuel ekpenyong 3 years ago

    Rohr says he has already known and selected 20 players. According to him, the remaining 3 players to fill in the last three slots will be tasted in the match against dr congo. However,personally,i wish the coach can take simi because of his height, experience in serie A and presence in the opponents 18 yard box

  • Ajiboye, Awazie,Eze,agu,Uche Agbo,joel Obi and lakosa will go home

    • Simy Nwankwo z a better striker than Ighalo,Tall Good with both legz & head,very strong,unpredictable…perfect striker for 4-5-1 & 4-4-2

  • darny arts 3 years ago

    I will never understand why Tyronne Ebuehi is on your list. The guy is obviously better than Aina and Echiejile. That notwitstanding, I wouldn’t drop Aina either. My choice of 7 players to be dropped would be, Ajiboye, Echiejile, Eze, Joel Obi, lokosa, Agu and Agbo

  • Omo9ja 3 years ago

    If they drop Simy in the final list, i will boldly say this that it’s a big mistake that will affect the team seriously at world cup. Super Eagles needed a top 9 which is simy. Since we don’t have a top finisher in the except for simy, we should thank God that we have him in the team. Can’t wait for final list my people. God bless Nigeria!!!

  • Well I feel Joel Obi should now have made the cut cos he lacks creativity in the middle, so here’s my list: Akpeyi, Lokosa, Moses Simon, Joel Obi, Aina, Stephen Eze, Emeruo

  • Aina is a Chelsea player on loan to hull. Rohr cannot drop him.

    It will between Omeruo or Echiejile or both



    Joel Obi -50/50


    I wished we could take only 2 his

  • Hmmm, this Johnny Edwards! You included Tyronne Ebuehi in a list of fringe players! Perhaps you consider Aina an established player? 
    Ebuehi is way ahead of Aina, and as he showed against Argentina, he can even do better than Shehu when the team plays 3-5-2 formation! Against Serbia, even the coach knows that he played the game nursing an injury- groin injury for that matter!
    Ebuehi is the best young talent we have in our defence line and his place in the 23 man squad should be assured!

  • all this 7 players should be dropped

  • Bestsports. 3 years ago

    ●Furious Rohr Asks Staff
    ●Compares Nwakali To Mikel
    ●As Player’s Debate Rages
    Impeccable sources close to Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr say the man is furious over the inability of his backroom staff and aides to bring to his notice the huge talent of 18-year old MVV Maastricht of Holland loanee forward from Arsenal, Kelechi Nwakali who stole the show following his scintillating display and television goal in the friendly against La Liga giants and Europa League champions, Atletico Madrid on Tuesday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium Uyo.
    “Since Tuesday after the game Rohr has been asking us about Kelechi Nwakali”, begins one of the backroom staff. “He cannot believe that such a huge talent is not part of his provisional list. He keeps asking us, how did we miss him?”, my source added.
    I further gathered that Rohr is just trying to be himself and not to be seen to be under pressure or indecisive otherwise he would have changed his mind by including Nwakali in the provisional list. According to one of my sources, Rohr was told about Kelechi but there was immense pressure on him then from some people in the NFF which led to his crying out and insisting on keeping Tunde Adelakun with him as contact person.
    Says my source, “I actually told him (Rohr) about Kelechi long before now but an influential figure in the NFF who has since left blocked the boy’s call up on ground that he (NFF bigwig) had an axe to grind with Emmanuel Amunike said to be very close to the boy. Amunike selected and appointed him captain of world conquering Golden Eaglets of 2015 class. More so, Rohr was under pressure then on the players he was inviting. We have made him understand that we actually mentioned Kelechi to him and the boy was actually invited on one occasion but the circumstances surrounding the team them made it almost impossible to pay any attention in the boy.”
    Yours sincerely gathered that Rohr said, “This boy plays like our captain (John Mikel Obi). They have almost same style and physical appearance. Their similarities are so identical. They hold the ball same way with creative touch, skills and sense. They both motivate others and dictate the pace and tone of play with their approaches. They play like leaders. How did we miss this boy?”
    Missing the World Cup is just by stroke of fate for Nwakali whose elder sibling Chidebere also had a brilliant game against Atletico Madrid. Chidebere was in the class of 2013 Golden Eaglets which had Kelechi Iheanacho. Some will sneak into the squad at the eleventh hour like Simeon Nwankwo of Italian side Crotone and Junior Lokosa of Kano Pillars without being part of the qualifiers yet some would miss the party despite getting opportunities to feature in the qualifiers or international friendlies leading to the World Cup.
    Perhaps if the game against Atletico Madrid had been played before the release of the provisional list, Nwakali brothers may have been included alongside one or two others from that friendly. Recall that 19-year old Bartholomew Ogbeche got into Adeboye Onigbinde’s Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup squad after that bicycle kick in the friendly against Paraguay.

  • Why can’t fifa expand the final list of players to 25 or26 ?for me it is high time they did so. Definitely, it will help teams like Nigeria in their selection. For me all the players invited have already proven something and it wouldn’t have been hard to drop players like Apkeyi or junior lokossa.

  • Ayphillydegreat 3 years ago

    @Bestsports. Thanks for that article. Some armchair critics that recently came into forum have strarted calling everyone who clamors for the inclusion of Kelechi Nwakali ‘internet coaches’. Some are also claiming his club form does not warrant his inclusion in the squad. If the Nwakali brothers, Usman and Musa Muhammed doesn’t merit to be in the list because of their current club status, how many players on the actual list have a stable club career?

    Musa needs to return to CSKA on loan when he couldn’t cope with the rigors of the premier league. Omeruo has been shipped out on loan to various clubsides over the last five seasons. Ekong, Agu, Agbo, Etebo, Aina, Shehu, all fall into that category. Yet these are the players we put the hopes of almost 200 million people including those of us in diaspora on.

    In all honesty Rohr’s scouts goofed big time on this one. For the coach to be asking questions on how they did not quickly identify the talents of Kelechi simply means someone amongst the scouts didn’t do his job proper. Well I’m glad we have some really great options for the near future. However, I sincerely hope the final 23 coming out of the current players in camp will be selected on merit.

  • BALORX 3 years ago

    @bestsports i am sure you are lying……. if nwakali was is the provisional squad the players he can displace are the players that are sure to be axed from the final spuad like agbo agu…. pls lets nt continue to argue. lets just support the team.

  • onwajunior 3 years ago

    Those of you clamouring for Simy, have you watched his game? Not the good 4-6mins highlights on YouTube, I mean full match. He is not a threat to defenders at all…even Sadiq Umar is better. Don’t let few brilliant runs deceive you. For now Ighalo is the best we have. Yes include him as Ighalo’s backup but he’s not all that!

  • my proposed players to be dropped are: Akpeyi, Mikel Agu, uche Agbo, Joel obi, Junior Lokosa, Stephen Eze/ Omeruo, Ederson, Echiejile. Sentiment apart, Nwakali cannot match Onazi, john Ogu, Ndidi, Mikel the leader. Don’t look surprised that I mentioned john Ogu, against Argentina, he is the main defensive player that helps Mikel to play creatively which Nwakali cannot do at all. if we have Mikel and Ndidi + john Ogu against any team in Russia, then we should fear no one, I just pray Ndidi recuperate on time. Above all let keep supporting the coach and pray for injury free tournament, we shall sing gloriously in July. Up super eagle the wings of Africa football

  • abeg include ebuehi in the 23 man squad. up Nigeria

  • Davizz 3 years ago

    Number one person to dropped is Akpeyi, he has never improve with all the playing he has gotten, to be follow by echejile,eze,omeruo, awaziem

  • Emmanuel 3 years ago

    Ebuehi is very good more than ola aina and omeruo the guy is natural benfical new signing