Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, who in recent matches has been Super Eagles’ first choice shot stopper, may not be in goal today as Nigeria hosts Central African Republic (CAR) in a Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier.
The match at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, is the first of a two-leg encounter with CAR as African teams battle for five slots in the 2022 World Cup train.
Maduka, who plays in Holland for Sparta Rotterdam, arrived in camp only yesterday to the chagrin of Coach Gernot Rohr, who expected all his players to be in Lagos latest on Tuesday morning.
On hand to step into Okoye’s gloves are Francis Uzoho, who was Nigeria’s number one at the Russia 2018 World Cup and Daniel Akpeyi, who was first choice at the Egypt 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Okoye has only trained twice with his teammates, a situation, which could cost him his place as Rohr hinted yesterday.
Speaking during a media parley yesterday, Rohr said: “I am not sure that he will start the game. We have two other goalkeepers.
“Everybody believes that it will be an easy victory, it’s not an easy match, and when players are arriving late like this, it is not helping us when we say we have to be serious.
“He did one training session this morning in the gym. Then he will do another training session this afternoon.”
“I spoke with him. He knows that it is not good. They were trying to have a good flight for him to come early, he missed it.
“They have to learn to be really serious when they come to the national team,” Rohr added.
On the clash with CAR, Rohr said Super Eagles are primed for victory, although he acknowledged that it would not be as easy as some pundits have predicted.
Nigeria lead Group C of the African qualifying series with six points and six more from the back-to-back clash with Central African Republic will confirm Super Eagles’ passage to the last qualifying round.
On the state of his team, the German said: “I’m happy with Victor Osimhen’s form and my strikers ahead of our qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic. Samuel Kalu has also been good, he took his goal well against Montpelier as well as Terem Moffi.
“Wilfred Ndidi is out for a month with a hamstring injury. He will be missed for the games against Central African Republic, but we expect him to make a good return next month for the games against Liberia and Cape Verde.”
Nigeria’s opponents, CAR, have only one point from a 1-1 draw with Cape Verde at their adopted home in Cameroun and a 0-1 loss to Liberia in their last game.
But they have not given up on qualification.
With youngster, Arnaud Tattevin and midfielder, Tresor Toropite, propelling the Wild Beats, Coach Raoul Savoy believes he can ruffle Eagles’ feathers.
“I like his (Osimhen’s) style of play, powerful and a really good striker. For us, of course, it will be an honour to play against this class of players but for now, I think Osimhen is for me the best at the moment.”
Today’s match is the first time both teams will be meeting at the senior level.
In another Group C game, Liberia is hosting Cape Verde in Accra, Ghana.