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AFCON 2021:Here Are The Players Who Rode The Bench Against Egypt But Should Start Against Sudan

These changes in personnel could be important for Nigeria’s game against Sudan, based on the performance against Egypt

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on Sudan in their second game of the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Saturday, January 15 as they look to build on a solid start.

Nigeria beat Egypt in surprisingly dominant fashion even though the 1-0 scoreline might suggest otherwise. Kelechi Iheanacho’s first-half strike separated the two teams.

While the majority of the starting 11 performed admirably in that win against Egypt, no two games are the same. The game against Sudan provides a different test that requires a different approach, hence a change in personnel.

Here are the players who rode the bench against Egypt but should start against Sudan because of the unique qualities they possess.

Olisa Ndah

Olisa Ndah

Augustine Eguavoen has shown that he is not scared to give a player his debut on the big stage and for a few reasons, Olisa Ndah should be the next beneficiary of the manager’s trust.

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The first of those reasons is that Kenneth Omeruo was forced off with an injury against Egypt and had to be replaced by the shaky Semi Ajayi in the second half.

Although the injury is said to be not as bad as initially feared and Omeruo is expected to be available for selection on Saturday, it is advisable to not risk it, especially when there is a capable deputy in Olisa Ndah.

Olisa Ndah in action for Nigeria

Another reason to play Ndah against Sudan is the tactical edge he provides the team with. Kenneth Omeruo had a good game against Egypt but pairing him with William Troost-Ekong has its risks despite the solidity they showed on Tuesday.

Neither Omeruo nor Troost-Ekong is fast, there is no need for too much imagination in figuring out what the risks are in starting two slow centre-backs. Olisa Ndah is not a speedster either but he can hold his own to an extent in a foot race and he is certainly quicker than both Troost-Ekong and Omeruo.

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Playing the Orlando Pirates centre-back alongside captain William Troost-Ekong would help mitigate that risk against the Sudanese.

Tyronne Ebuehi

Tyronne Ebuehi

This suggested change is more rotational than tactical since Zaidu Sanusi had a great game against Egypt, but this game against Sudan might be the only chance to assess what Tyronne Ebuehi can add to the Super Eagles.

Tyronne Ebuehi is a right-back, so if he comes in to replace Zaidu Sanusi, that means Ola Aina would switch to the left-back position.

Tyronne Ebuehi had the reputation of being the most adventurous Nigerian full-back before the tragic injury that kept him out for almost two seasons.

Ebuehi has only played one game for Nigeria since October 2020 and he held his own, playing all 90 minutes in the 3-0 win against Lesotho in March 2021.

Tyronne Ebuehi sprints after the ball in Nigeria 2018 friendly against Czech Republic, friendly match. Image shows Tyronne Ebuehi (NGA).

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It would be nice to see him get a run out against the weakest team in Group D just to assess his level and know if he can be a reliable option for the rest of the tournament.

Chidera Ejuke Unlike the other two, Chidera Ejuke did get some minutes against Egypt and made an impression after coming off the bench to replace Samuel Chukwueze.

Chidera Ejuke goes into the AFCON as a fan’s favourite

Ejuke came on in the 72nd minute and did more in the subsequent 23 minutes than Chukwueze had managed in the previous 72.

But for some lapses in finishing and decision-making, Chidera Ejuke may well have ended the game with either a goal or an assist or even both.

Effecting this change would be because of a combination of Ejuke’s lively cameo appearance and Samuel Chukwueze’s lethargy on Tuesday.

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