Super Eagles Captain Musa To Make 100th Appearance
By Anulika Menanya, Lagos.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria 11 years after he earned his first- when they take on Cape Verde.
The Super Eagles arrived in the island of Minelo in Cape Verde on Monday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a special jet of Air Peace airline. They take on the Blue Sharks in Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying tie as they will be looking to take 3 points from Cape Verde following a 2-0 win over Liberia.
Musa, who made his debut for the Eagles age 17 on 5 August 2010 against Madagascar, will lead 21 players in the tie. The players were trimmed down from the 30 players invited ahead of the Liberia clash.
This was due to the departure of UK-based players who returned to base following the unchanged stance of UK authorities concerning protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to the country after visiting a country on their COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.
In his time with the Eagles, Musa became the first Nigerian to score more than once in a FIFA World Cup match, after scoring twice against Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He is also the first Nigerian to score in two FIFA World Cup competitions, after scoring twice against Iceland in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and has scored 15 goals so far for Nigeria.
Tuesday’s encounter scheduled for the 5,000–capactiy Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigeria squad.
The absence of defenders, Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal and Spain –based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks on Tuesday evening.
The departures of two–goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi could open the door for Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. Also with the depature of Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo, Coach Gernot Rohr would have to make do with entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.
Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia –based Chidera Ejuke, Italy –based former junior international Kingsley Michael and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are all available.
Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum three points ahead of any other team in the group, even if Liberia’s Lone Star are victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.
A win will also brighten the path of the three –time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is left in October.