Festus Abu, Volgograd
Ahmed Musa will be handed a starting for the Super Eagles in their crucial Group D role 2018 World Cup clash against tournament debutants Iceland at the Volgograd Arena on Friday.
A positive result will help Nigeria revive their chances of progressing to the Round of 16 of the championship, after their opening day defeat by Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday.
READ ALSO: Iceland duo wary of ‘strong’ Eagles
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has been under pressure to make a few tweaks to his line-up for today’s fixture, with Leicester City flop Musa getting a starting job after impressing in a cameo in the 2-0 defeat to the Croats at the packed Kaliningrad Stadium.
Also in line for a starting spot is versatile Israel-based midfielder John Ogu, who is needed for a dirty job against the fierce-tackling Nordic opponents, who nullified the threat posed by Lionel Messi in their opening game against Argentina in Moscow on Saturday.
Musa, who spent half of last season on loan at CSKA Moscow, where he spent four seasons, winning the Russian Premier League title thrice, is very popular in Russia.
Many of his fans were surprised that their 25-year-old hero started the match against Croatia from the bench, and the 64-year-old has allegedly been under pressure from the team to abandon his 4-2-3-1 approach in favour of a 3-5-2 formation with Musa working to create chances for Odion Ighalo or Kelechi Iheanacho.
Also, some sections of the Russian media have mounted on Rohr to start the former Kano Pillars star, saying his combination with Victor Moses will help the Eagles unlock the well-organised Iceland defence.
The Nigeria manager had promised to consider starting Musa as he was not satisfied with his team’s attack against Croatia.
“He has a chance to start the next game, we will see,” Rohr said.
“Everything is still possible. If we win the next game, all is possible in order to qualify.”
Meanwhile, China-based forward Odion Ighalo and England-based midfielder Wilfred Ndidi have issued rallying calls to their teammates ahead of today’s must-win encounter against plucky Iceland.
The players, who expressed disappointment over their loss to Croatia, vowed that the Eagles would give everything to bag three points to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Ighalo, who predicted a tough game against the tiny country, said they would attack from the referee’s sound of the whistle.
Leicester City’s Ndidi, who promised victory in the clash, called for fans to believe in the national team.
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