Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Abdullahi & Echiejile Responsible For Nigeria's World Cup QualificationPublished: May 16, 2018
Super Eagles Media Officer Toyin Ibitoye has posited that the Super Eagles defenders played the most important role in Nigeria's qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Elderson Echiejile and Abdullahi Shehu were the preferred back four during the third round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and Ibitoye has revealed that Rohr's decision to name them in the provisional roster as well as Chidozie Awaziem, Ola Aina and Brian Idowu was a no-brainer.
''These guys are responsible for where we are right now. We failed to qualify for the Nations Cup in 2015 and 2017, confidence was low,'' Ibitoye told Channels Television.
''Gernot Rohr came on board and he said the first step is to organize our defense. If we don't concede goals, we don't lose games.
''He started working with young defenders, these guys are responsible for getting us to the World Cup from that tough group with a game to spare, there is no reason to discard them now, the coach believes in them and they are getting better and better. ''
Ibitoye acknowledged that Rohr faces a selection headache before naming his final 23-man squad list as the defenders have shown their versatility especially the fullbacks.
''Ekong has improved tremendously, lately there was a change of coach but he played the last game.
''Balogun is back training, Awaziem has been toughened up by the French League and plays in a number of positions, he plays left side, right side of central defense.
''Aina, Brian and Tyronne can play on the left and right, the team is spoilt for choice and it's a very good mix of youth and they can play at a high level for a very long time,'' he added.
If the forfeited match against Algeria is not included, the Super Eagles defensive unit conceded only three goals in five matches in the final round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
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