Udinese of Italy defender, William Troost-Ekong is set to step out as Nigeria’s captain in Tuesday’s international friendly against Ukraine, as the Super Eagles’ Saudi Arabia-based skipper, Ahmed Musa pulled out of the trip on Thursday night as a result of injury that has failed to heal as expected.
Megasportsarena.com reports that Musa’s exit adds to the earlier withdrawals of defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Tyronne Ebuehi, midfielder Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi as well as forward Henry Onyekuru, who opted out on account of work permit issues at his new base at Monaco of France.
Musa looked dodgy in the first two matches of his Saudi Arabian club, Al Nasser and, although he survived all through the first match, the former Kano Pillars, VV Venlo of Holland, CSKA Moscow of Russia and Leicester City of England winger-cum-attacker was replaced after 59 minutes of the second game last week.
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) confirmed that Muasa is not fit enough to play Tuesday’s friendly, after he had to be substituted on the hour mark during the Saudi Professional Football League match between his team and Al Fateh.
In place of the players whose withdrawals occurred after they had been listed for Tuesday’s match, Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr has also handed late call-ups to Club Brugge of Belgium forward Bonaventure Dennis, Joshua Maja from Girondins-Bordeaux of France and Lokomotiv Moscow of Russia defender, Bryan Idowu.
R4ohr’s squad in Dnipro is largely laced with youngsters and rookies, with only Brighton Hove Albion of England stopper, Leon Aderemi Balogun among the few new generation players in the team that has donned the captain’s band at one point or the other, but his form of recent for club and country is not evocative of someone who will lead as skipper of the side.
Consequently, with Omeruo, Daniel Akpeyi and John Ugochukwu Ogu all out of Tuesday’s game, the stage is set for Troost-Ekong to lead out the Eagles out as captain at Dnipro-Arena, starting at 6.30pm Nigeria time.
To set his assignment in motion, Troost-Ekong accompanied Eagles’ coach,. Gernot Rohr to the pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday game, during which he spoke about young players in Nigeria’s roster and the role he has to play in leading by example.
While also admitting that he was impressed with Ukraine’s performance in their 3-0 win over Lithuania on Saturday, the Holland-born defender said he and his colleagues will give their very best to beat their hosts at the East Europeans’ backyard in Dnipro.
Troost-Ekong stated: ”First of all, I would like to thank Ukraine for a very warm welcome. As for the upcoming match, it will be difficult for us, because now there are not many experienced players in our squad.
”Although, on the other hand, young players are always eager to play for the national team. The whole team watched the match between Ukraine and Lithuania, and I must say that the game of the Ukrainian national team really impressed us.
”In addition, the fact that in the FIFA ranking our opponent holds a rather high position also speaks volumes. The match against Ukraine is a challenge for us, for which we are ready.”