By Halimat Mohammed & Clement Adedeji
Goalkeeper: Ikechukwu Ezenwa was handed the starting berth between the sticks in Friday’s victory between the two sides in Uyo, and he didn’t disappoint. While the FC Ifeanyi Ubah man was largely untroubled, he did demonstrate his prowess with one excellent stop to deny Vincent Aboubakar early on.
Centre-back: Leon Balogun was one of Nigeria’s star men in the victory over Cameroon, denying the Lions when they forayed forwards in the first half and proving a commanding presence. One stop – moments before Nigeria’s second goal – could have proved particularly valuable.
Midfield: Wilfred Ndidi will again be called upon to do the dirty work in the heart of the midfield. Expect Cameroon, desperate to salvage their qualification campaign, to battle in front of their home fans, and Ndidi will be called upon to protect the defence.
Midfield: John Obi Mikel – What a return it was for the Nigeria talisman against the Indomitable Lions on Friday. Few sides in Africa can call upon a player with the calibre of experience (and quality) of Mikel, and he remains the Eagles’ key man.
Forward: Victor Moses – In some of Nigeria’s biggest matches in recent years, it’s been Moses who’s stepped up to make the difference between defeat or victory. His performance against Egypt in the Nations Cup group stage in 2013 set the stage for Nigeria’s remarkable triumph, while he netted twice as Algeria were defeated 3-1 earlier in the qualifying campaign. Collins Fai won’t relish another duel with the Chelsea wideman.
Kelechi Iheanacho is an appealing option for Rohr despite his own fitness concerns, but Ighalo has vowed that he’s fit enough to play. Rohr will surely be keen to start the former Watford man if fitness permits, such was his impact in Friday’s game, as he returned to the side in some style.
Forward: Moses Simon deserves credit for helping Nigeria forget the absence of Alex Iwobi, and a fine performance in the first leg should ensure that Rohr sticks with him ahead of Ahmed Musa. Cameroon must surely play a more cautious game after being shredded in Uyo, but when they do press forward in search of goals – as they need to do, Simon should be on hand to capitalize.
Right-back: Abdullahi Shehu – Rohr may be hesitant to change a winning side, particularly after such an exceptional display. However, with Ola Aina’s nationality switch having been confirmed, the Hull City man remains a tantalising option for the Super Eagles. Nonetheless, we’re expecting Rohr to stick with Shehu until qualification is secured, Aina’s time will come.
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