SUPER EAGLES: Rohr aims for super team with new kids on the block

The Technical Adviser of Nigeria’s national football team, the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, since taking over the affairs of the senior team, has been relentless in the building of a formidable team that’d be capable of representing the country at all international levels.

Rohr, who signed a two-year deal with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) last August, has not lost a game since assuming office, and has scouted for players with Nigerian heritage around the world to perform his task.

In the last official game played by the Super Eagles, which they won 3-0 against the Hawks of Togo in Paris, Rohr handed senior debuts to ten players, who we can consider to be the future of Nigeria on the international scene, as age is very much on their side.

Nigeria is currently seeking tickets to 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, and so much is expected from these lads in the remaining qualifying matches – and in the tournaments proper – provided the Eagles qualify.

Victor Osimhen
The 18-year old Wolfsburg striker joined the Super Eagles in their training camp in Paris ahead of the Togo friendly after helping his side retain top-flight football in Germany days before.

At his arrival to camp, he made a short clip that was uploaded by the NFF. He said: “Hi Nigerians, I am here in the Super Eagles camp. I am here to give my best and work hard for the good of the team.”

The former Ultimate Strikers Academy ace and Golden Eaglets star made his debut for the senior team in the 3-0 thrashing of the Hawks. And the 2015 CAF Youth Player of the Year has also been invited to face Bafana Bafana of South Africa next weekend.

Henry Onyekuru
The 19-year-old forward, who currently plays for Eupen (Belgium), is no doubt Nigeria’s hottest striker this season.

He was called up for the Super Eagles camp in Paris. He played against Corsica last Friday, but made his official debut as a second-half substitute against Togo, and is also on the list of invited players for Bafana.

The former Aspire Academy kid, who finished the 2016–17 season as joint top-scorer with 22 goals (24 in all competitions) for Eupen, is wanted by an array of Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Everton, Southampton, West Brom and Crystal Palace, with the Gunners being in forefront.

Kayode Olanrewaju
The Austria Wien striker was brought on in the 70th minute to replace Alex Iwobi in the Togo friendly and is among the invited players that will face South Africa in Uyo.

Having played for the U-17 and U-20 Nigeria teams, the Ibadan-born player made his debut for the Super Eagles in a friendly 1-1 tie against Senegal in London.

Olarenwaju has been in impressive scoring form, grabbing 17 league goals in Austria to emerge top scorer, as his side finished second on the log with 63 points from 36 games.

The 24-year old may turn out to become one of Nigeria’s greatest talents in the round leather game.

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Tyronne Ebuehi
The 21-year-old Dutch-born Nigerian footballer currently plays as a right back for Dutch Eredivisie club ADO Den Haag.

He was called up to the team for the first time for a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Algeria, which he declined, stating that he needed some time to settle into his club.

He was later called up for friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso (which did not hold) in March and joined up with the squad, but made his official debut on Thursday against Togo in Paris.

Ebuehi is most likely to start against South Africa next weekend, as he also made the 23-man list of invited players for the clash.

NPFL Trio: Odey, Alhassan, Olatunbosun
Following criticisms in some quarters over non-inclusion of players from the Nigeria Professional Football League in the national team, Rohr and his crew combed the league and called up MFM FC’s duo Stephen Odey and Sikiru Olatunbosun as well as Akwa United’s Ibrahim Alhassan for the Paris camping.

The trio made their official debut for the national team in the friendly against Togo, as they came in from the bench in the second half.

19-years-old Odey, who has been pumping in goals for the Lagos side, is MFM’s all-time top scorer and currently topping the goal charts in the league. Odey and his teammate Olatunbosun has helped their side this season as they’ve remained in top three for a long time.

However, Odey and Olatunbosun were omitted from the list of invited players for the Bafana clash, while 20-year-old Alhassan – Akwa United’s top scorer – made the list.

Isaac Success
The 21-year-old Watford forward played for the U-17 team at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, being also named vice-captain. He appeared in the first two games, but was sidelined during the rest of the tournament due to an injury.

Success got his first call up to the Super Eagles for the World Cup qualifier against Zambia in October last year, but made his debut for team, coming on as a substitute in a 1–1 draw against Senegal at The Hive Stadium in London.

Chidozie Awaziem
A native of Enugu, the 20-year old joined Portugal’s FC Porto in 2014, where he spent his last year as a junior and won the corresponding league title. He made his senior debuts with the B-team, in the Segunda Liga.

He also made his official debut for the national team against Togo last night, and has been called up again to join the 23-man squad to face South Africa on June 10.

Uche Agbo, Mikel Agu & Dele Alampasu
They are the three other players who made their official debuts for the Super Eagles in the friendly against Togo.

21-year-old Agbo, who plays for Spanish side Granada CF on loan from Premier League club Watford, came in as a substitute for Oghenekaro Etebo in the 59th minute. The former Enyimba International ace have the capacity to function as a central defender or a defensive midfielder.

Vitoria Setubal’s Mikel Agu, unlike Agbo, made the list of invited players for Bafana clash. Agu was among the starting XI against Togo but came off in the 85th minute for Alhassan.

Cesarense Goalkeeper Alampasu also made his debut as a late substitute for Ikechukwu Ezenwa. He came in 20 minutes to stoppage time.

In the match which took place at the Stade Municipal de Saint Leu La Foret in Paris, France, goals by Ahmed Musa (brace) and Kelechi Iheanacho gave the Eagles a 3-0 victory over the Hawks.

After the game, some earlier members of the team including William Troost-Ekong and Kelechi Iheanacho went on to social media and applauded the new lads who made their debuts on the night.

On his Twitter handle, Troost-Ekong wrote: “3-0 win against Togo. Congrats to the boys making their debut today. Honoured to wear the captain band for my country at the end. Fighting together for our Nigeria.”

Iheanacho also wrote beneath a picture via his Instagram wall after the match: “Starting the month with a win, great performance from the young #supereagles we keep working hard to get better.”

Ultimately, the three-time African champions are still being groomed by German coach Gernot Rohr and his entire technical crew. So far, the team has gone eight games unbeaten – winning six and drawing two – and will seek to extend the records when they face Bafana Bafana of South Africa next Saturday at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.

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