Super Eagles face CAR again on Sunday afternoon with big-name players who find it hard to comprehend their current situation.
Coach Gernot Rohr named Francis Uzoho, Ola Aina, Jamilu Collins, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Frank Onyeka, Joe Aribo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Chidera Ejuke, Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen in the starting XI for the day 3 match against CAR at Teslim Balogun Stadium.
With six points from three matches in group C of the World Cup Qualifiers, Super Eagles will be keen to revenge after the defeat to lowly ranked CAR.
There are indications that some less motivated first teamers would give way for hungry players to perform at Stade de la Réunification.
Rohr should be prepared to admit that this game could affect the reputation he has built in the game. It is one that has been meticulously crafted at for.
Now not in a good moment, but [against CAR] the Super Eagles will be fit. We are a team, like a group, and not individual. Rohr’s reputation is not important. The group and the team are important.
In the end, the success and failure of Nigeria teams – usually the failure – always come back to the manager. This team is different because rarely has a manager so dominated. Samson Siasia was overshadowed; so too Sunday Oliseh to an extent, but much more than those two, this is Rohr’s Super Eagles. It was he who oversaw its rebirth in qualification and, equally, it is he who now grapples with its failings.
This evening, he will make his final decisions on the team. Kevin Akpoguma is as close to a certain starter as you can ever be with Capello and Calvin Bassey is the favourite to start on the left, although there is still an outside possibility Innocent Bonke will get the job.
At least Rohr is facing his Nigeria crisis with the strength to pick the team he believes is the right one.
Rohr is still shuffling the pack in what could prove to be a defining game for his career. It has taken Taiwo Awoniyi one game to play himself out of contention. Paul Onuachu must be wondering what he has to do.
It is patently obvious Rohr has not yet struck upon a team he is certain about.
But it is there, none the less. And if we reach 70 minutes on Sunday, with the game still goalless and the anxiety rising, there will be little Rohr can do but hope this team can summon something of all the sides he has managed in the past.