Nigeria consider unleashing teen sensation against Bafana

07 November 2018 - 11:46 By Nick Said
Gernot Rohr, Manager of Nigeria and Yusuf Salisu laugh prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Gernot Rohr, Manager of Nigeria and Yusuf Salisu laugh prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Image: Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has hinted he could give a first cap to teenage forward Samuel Chukwueze‚ who plays for Villarreal in Spain’s La Liga‚ against Bafana Bafana in this month’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

The former junior international has earned a first call-up and could play some role when Super Eagles meet Bafana bent on revenge at FNB Stadium on Saturday‚ November 17.

“Chukwueze has a good left foot‚ is quick‚ has a low centre of gravity‚ which gives him a very good balance‚ and can deliver and score‚” Rohr said.

“We need a player like him to give us balance in attack and he can also play through the middle.”

The 19-year-old scored against Almería on what was his domestic debut for Villarreal last week‚ before starting again in the 1-1 draw with Levante at the weekend.

He had previously featured for “Yellow Submarine” (Villareal’s nickname) in the Uefa Europa League and also for the club’s reserves this season.

He won the Bronze Boot as the third best player at the 2015 Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile after scoring three goals as Nigeria lifted the title.

Chippa United goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi could start for Nigeria against Bafana after first-choice stopper Francis Uzoho was forced to pull out of the squad with injury.

Uzoho has been replaced by Enyimba gloveman Theophilus Afelokhai‚ who joins clubmate Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Akpeyi as the options for Rohr.

It looks like a straight shootout between Ezenwa and Akpeyi for a starting berth after Uzoho was in goals for both games against Libya last month.

Akpeyi was in starting line-up when Bafana won 2-0 in Uyo in June 2016 to get their Nations Cup qualification off the perfect start.

The Chippa keeper committed a howler to set up Tokelo Rantie’s 54th-minute opener for South Africa‚ as Bafana earned their first competitive victory against the Eagles.

Akpeyi’s last cap came in the 4-2 win over Argentina last November‚ while he was an unused substitute at the World Cup in Russia.

X