Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr is set to rollout a 4-2-1-3 formation against Croatia in his team’s first match of the World Cup, as the Franco-German gaffer aims to seek early goals against the East Europeans.
Though it might appear to be an ambitious system to adopt, Rohr is bent on a quick-fire start to Nigeria’s Russia 2018 campaign, but is worried over possible effects of Ramadan fasting on his Muslim players, especially Ahmed Musa and Shehu Abdullahi.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food and drinking from sunrise to sunset; travellers can be exempted from fasting but they should make up for lost fast days later.
Consequently Shehu started Nigeria’s last two games against England and Czech Republic but was substituted at half-time.
Feelers from the Eagles’ camp reveal that Rohr already knows the formation he will use against the Balkans plus the eleven players that will start the game, barring an injury in training.
Based on the Eagles’ workouts prior to their trip to Russia, the German plans to set up in a 4-2-1-3 system, which was developed by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho while at Inter Milan.
There are no prizes for guessing that Deportivo de La Coruña’s Francis Uzoho will be in goal versus Croatia on Saturday.
He e will be protected by central defenders Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong, with Abdullahi Shehu and Brian Idowu taking up the right-back and left-back roles respectively.
Oghenekaro Etebo is expected to start as the box-to-box midfielder, Ndidi as the holding midfielder and captain Obi Mikel as the number ten.
Rohr has opted to play Odion Ighalo centrally in attack, with Chelsea star Victor Moses and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi supporting the Changchun Yatai frontman from the right and left side respectively.
However, Rohr is worried about Bursaspor defender, Shehu and CSKA’s Musa ahead of his side’s World Cup opener against Croatia on Saturday, June 16.
The former Bayern Munich defender has expressed his concerns that the fasting month, which ends on Thursday, June 14, will affect their performances, especially the right-back who is tipped to be named in the starting line-up.
“For the first game, it will not be easy to put it away. The energy loss is difficult to balance in such a short time. We’ll probably lug it into the first game.
“We’re outsiders, but we’re ambitious outsiders. We’re a young team, we may lack experience, but we still have some experienced players like our captain, John Obi Mikel.
“We have very big motivation even though we are far away from the country. This is the moment we have been waiting for. We’re very excited. We are happy and have waited a long time to be here.
“In Austria, we had good training conditions. The players are fit and now we wait for our first game in Kaliningrad. We’re ready for Croatia,” Rohr reasoned.