World Cup qualifier: Who should start for Nigeria against Swaziland?

Sunday Oliseh

The Super Eagles face a tricky away clash against the Sihlangu Semnikati of Swaziland in a must win 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Nigeria coach, Sunday Oliseh, recalled the players that took part in the two international friendly games against DR Congo and Cameroon in Belgium last month – with Obafemi Martins and Kelechi Iheanacho the only additions.

The duo give the tactician a different dimension especially in attack and there could likely be a couple of surprises in the line-up to face the South Africans.

Should Oliseh stick with same line-up that trashed Cameroon 3-0? Or probably introduce Martins and Iheanacho straight from the start?

We take a look at the strongest possible 11 taking into consideration the form, tactics and versatility of the players.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

  1. Carl Ikeme

The obvious choice in goal after the debacle involving former skipper and no 1, Vincent Enyeama.

Despite his inactivity at his club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, which Oliseh described as “political”, Carl Ikeme should get the nod ahead of Dele Alampasu and Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

  1. Abdullahi Shehu

Portugal-based Abdullahi Shehu is expected to start at right back after impressing in the last two friendly games.

His position in the team is further strengthened by the injury to first choice right back, Leon Balogun.

The former Kano Pillars player will feature for the Eagles on Friday despite losing his father on Wednesday.

  1. Efe Ambrose

Many who watched Nigeria annihilate perennial rivals Cameroon 3-0 in Belgium would agree that Efe Ambrose was a different player entirely.

The Celtic defender scored a rare goal in the rout and that might have cemented his place in Oliseh’s first team.

Playing as a centre back, he showed why previous coaches have been making a big mistake playing him at right back.

  1. Godfrey Oboabona

Godfrey Oboabona, who missed the international friendly games due to visa hitches, could likely be handed a straight start by Oliseh.

Oboabona formed a formidable partnership with Kenneth Omeruo during coach Stephen Keshi’s tenure but has found himself in the fringes of the team lately.

  1. Elderson Echiejile

An obvious choice at left back, Elderson Echiejile remains Nigeria’s undisputed first choice in that position.

The Monaco defender provides loads of experience, exposure and composure when compared to the team’s other option, Chima Akas, who plays locally with Dolphins.

  1. Ogenyi Onazi

At 24, Ogenyi Onazi is already a veteran in the current Super Eagles setup. His partnership with John Obi Mikel in midfield was instrumental in Nigeria’s 2013 African Cup of Nations triumph.

A regular at Lazio, Onazi provides energy, combativeness and versatility to the team and is definitely a sure starter.

  1. John Obi Mikel

The elder-statesman in the team, Mikel remains the unheralded skipper and leader in disguise.

Despite Chelsea’s poor start this season and his bit-part role in the team, he still has enough in his legs to bring down the Swazi’s.

  1. Moses Simon

Gent winger, Moses Simon, has scored two goals in his last four, making him the most in-form and prolific attacker under Oliseh.

The young winger is a delight to watch with his pace, skills and eyes for goal. Simon should get the nod to start in one of the flanks.

  1. Ahmed Musa

If there is an indispensable player right now in the Eagles squad, that player is Ahmed Musa.

Captain fantastic, Musa, has found a new lease of life under Oliseh with his new role as skipper. His performance hasn’t dropped a bit with the CSKA Moscow winger showing same level of commitment as he did five years ago when he made his debut for Nigeria.

  1. Obafemi Martins

Seattle Sounders striker, Obafemi Martins, returns to the team after a two-year absence and could head straight into the starting 1.

Martins isn’t just a goal-scorer. Apart from his 40 goals in the MLS, he creates chances for his teammates – evident in his 23 assist thus far.

  1. Odion Ighalo

With his current form, Odion Ighalo could walk straight into any team in the world.

The Watford striker has contributed seven goals and two assists in what is turning to be an unbelievable debut English premiership season.