Football, Sports

Meet the 11 Eagles ‘starting’ against Bafana Bafana

(Last Updated On: June 10, 2017)

The training sessions have been intense with all 24 players present in camp giving their all to ensure a place in the team that would go against the Bafana Bafana on Saturday.

As Gernot Rohr admitted at a press conference on Thursday, he is a bit confused on whom to choose because all the players are in shape.

“There is a big motivation. I had to sometimes tell them to go slowly because there was a little bit too much aggressiveness because everybody wants to play.

“Now, it is very, very difficult for me to name the starting team because we have so many good and young players.”

But looking at the two friendly matches before this match; the 1-1 against Corsica and the 3-0 victory over Togo, below is the probable starting XI.

Daniel Akpeyi – 30 – Chippa United [PSL]

The preferred second choice in the absence of Carl Ikeme and has not done badly when called upon. Though there always seems to be a shadow of doubt about his mentality if things get really tense. With a very young central defensive pairing in front of him, Akpeyi would have to stand up to be counted if the going gets tough against South Africa on Saturday.

2016/17 season: Played 28; Clean Sheets 8; Caps 5

Abdullahi Shehu – 24 – Anorthosis Famagusta [Cyprus First Tier]

Shehu is an Olympic bronze medalist with the U-23 team but who has not really gained the trust of Gernot Rohr. The right back position has actually become a bit of a troublesome position for the German tactician to fill. It is another shop window for Shehu on Saturday.

2016/17 season: Played 29; Goals 2; Caps 15

Elderson Echiejile – 29 – Sporting Gijon [La Liga]

A very diligent defender, who has always seemed to have a gear or two in reserve. Echiejile seems to have been around forever even though he is only 29. The product of the Pepsi Academy packs a punch with his shots but does seem to get easily overwhelmed by very aggressive wingers. One believes he would be chucked if Rohr gets a younger performer with almost the same capacity.

2016/17 season: Played 12; Goals 1; Caps 56

William Troost-Ekong – 23 – KAA Gent [Jupiler Pro League]

Troost-Ekong was developing quite a formidable partnership with the injured Leon Balogun and this season has been one when he finally settled into his centre back role with Gent in Belgium. A very calm persona on and off the field – he looks like he will be around for quite a while as he continues to improve his tactical decision making.

2016/17 season: Played 8; Goals 0; Caps 11

Chidozie Awaziem – 20 – FC Porto B [Ledman Liga Pro]

A fledgling – this teenage defender has been touted for great things. Just like Kenneth Omeruo burst into the scene – Awaziem has earned admiration from Rohr and could become the real understudy to Balogun in the coming years. A solid defender who is still given to some rash decisions on account of his inexperience. He will be hoping that getting a shirt with the Eagles would finally convince his Porto employers to give him another chance in the first team.

2016/17 season: Played 35; Goals 2; Caps 1

Ogenyi Onazi – 24 – Trabzonspor [Super Lig]

Onazi is one of the more experienced players in the team and a warrior. The midfielder is expected t set the tone for the battle in the middle part of the pitch against the likes of Dean Furman. A very affable fellow, he has grown since the late Stephen Keshi gave him his chance. Now playing in Turkey, he should continue in the national team for some time to come.

2016/17 season: Played 38; Goals 2; Caps 44

Wilfred Ndidi – 20 – Leicester City [EPL]

Ndidi was the revelation of the season at Leicester City, where he deservedly won the Young Player of the year award. Ndidi is still developing in his central midfield position but he has shown the capacity to grab a game by the scruff and dictate. A tenacious tackler, he also possesses canons that can befuddle goalkeepers.

2016/17 season: Played 57; Goals 6; Caps 8

Oghenekaro Etebo – 21 – CD Feirense [Liga NOS]

An Olympic hero – Etebo looks like a cross between Austin Okocha and the late Muda Lawal. He can be full of guile but possesses the power and tenacity to also battle. A very good addition to the Eagles and Rohr will be hoping he moves to a better club in the summer window so that his game continues to develop.

2016/17 season: Played 27; Goals 3; Caps 9

Ahmed Musa – 24 – Leicester City [EPL]

Musa had a bad season – on and off the pitch. But he scored two goals in the last friendly against Togo as he also got married again. There are rumours that he will be leaving Leicester though nothing has been confirmed which means that he is in the shop window once again. His two goals against Argentina at the last World Cup would always be the level expected of the winger cum forward. Musa is the most experienced Eagles in this bunch despite still being just 24.

2016/17 season: Played 32; Goals 4; Caps 63

Alex Iwobi – – 21 – Arsenal [EPL]

The magician in the Eagles, Iwobi has gotten to the point where his fancy tricks will not do again. He has to start delivering and this new Eagles team is a tool to achieve that. His ability on the ball distinguishes him at the moment but he has to transform that into creating more chances – something he showed against Togo by delivering two assists.

2016/17 season: Played 39; Goals 4; Caps 10

Kelechi Iheanacho – 20 – Manchester City [EPL]

Seven goals in his last 10 matches for the national team shows Iheanacho’s efficiency. This summer transfer window will be a momentous one for the striker as he seeks a move to another club where he can continue to grow. The poacher’s abilities are all there to be seen – he now needs to find consistency at a club.

2016/17 season: Played 29; Goals 7; Caps 9

Average Age of this starting 11 is 23.27.

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About the Author

is a blogger, and a presenter at notable media outfits. She is also the chief executive officer of LionRose, a frontline public relation company and a volunteer at Shade Charity, UK.

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