Nigeria vs Ghana: What Ndidi’s injury means for Super Eagles

March 22, 2022
Wilfred Ndidi
The most important decision for Eguavoen and his technical team is to decide on the player to replace Ndidi in the expected Kumasi cauldron on Friday

Nigeria’s national football team, the Super Eagles, will be without the services of their most dependable defensive midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi.

This disruption came when the Augustine Eguavoen-led Technical Team would have almost concluded on the tactics and the players to be deployed for the first leg of the 2022 World Cup playoff qualifier between Nigeria and Ghana on Friday.

The Leicester City defender got injured in a 50/50 tackle with Rennes’ Lovro Majer in the 59th minute last Thursday in a UEFA Conference League match. Leicester boss, Brendan Rodgers confirmed to BT Sport in the post-match interview, “it was a block tackle, his medial ligament in his knee, we’ll see how that is.”

It is probable the midfielder has played his last game for the season.

Thus, Eguavoen and his technical team have to find a [quick] solution for the calm, interception powers, and energy the 25-year-old normally supplies to the Super Eagles, especially away to bitter rivals, Ghana.

The interim manager went with a 4-3-3 formation in the four games played at the Nations Cup and Ndidi was at the heart of breaking up many opponents’ attacks and instigating the Eagles’ attacks. The Leicester man made the most tackles and interceptions in the four games, though Ola Aina, playing from the right side of the defence, came very close to matching his numbers.

That we will miss him is an understatement but as it is in life-change is the only constant and the Super Eagles must accomplish a quick and accurate pivot to fill the yawning gap, especially against a smooth Ghanaian operator in Thomas Partey.

Abdullahi over Onyeka and Bonke

What the Eagles need in the raucous and tense atmosphere of the Baba Yara Stadium on Friday is a calm tackler, who will not be compelled into making rash tackles. Both Frank Onyeka and Innocent Bonke don’t fit the bill, as they build their games on instinct and aggression.

Fans and many Nigerian pundits will not like the next statement. I will deploy the dependable Shehu Abdullahi in the role. Why? He has the experience and the temperament and, more so; he has been in tense situations with the team in the past and he will not be overwhelmed. Another option will be Semi Ajayi, even though he does not possess the requisite experience of local African jousting and the occasion would swallow him.

Whatever option Eguavoen goes with, he must ensure the replacement makes those around him better. With better match fitness, Oghenekaro Etebo possesses the skill set to assume that mantle, but all 11 players chosen to start on Friday for the Eagles must possess an abundance of energy to counteract what the Ghanaians will present. The Black Stars may be panicky, incoherent, and fumbling about, but they just need an early goal to turn them into warriors.