Sport  |  Football  

Eight stars missing as Eagles train on Cape Verde’s artificial pitch

By Christian Okpara |   06 September 2021   |   4:15 am  

Two-goal hero against Liberia Kelechi Iheanacho (left) and Alex Iwobi will miss tomorrow’s game against Cape Verde

The Super Eagles will train on the artificial pitch of the Estadio Municipal Aderito Sena, Mindelo this evening ahead of tomorrow’s Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier against hosts, Cape Verde.

The Eagles, who left Lagos by 2.00 a.m. this morning aboard a chartered Air Peace flight, will meet the Blue Sharks today on an artificial pitch, which is alien to most of the players.

To acquaint the players to the hard surface presented by artificial pitches, the Eagles’ technical crew took the team to the Legacy pitch of the Lagos National Stadium on Saturday. They will train again this evening on the Estadio Municipal Aderito Sena, Mindelo surface.

The team left Lagos without eight of the players that featured in the 2-0 defeat of Liberia on Friday. The players are Alex Iwobi, William Troost-Ekong, Peter Etebo, Joe Eribo, Wilfred Ndidi, Ola Aina, Leon Balogun and Kelechi Iheanacho, who are all based in Britain.

According to officials of the national team, the players left for Britain immediately after the game against Liberia.

Cape Verde is among countries in Britain’s COVID-19 red zone and players for clubs in the United Kingdom are barred from travelling to such countries.

Speaking on tomorrow’s game, Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr, said the absence of the eight players notwithstanding, Nigeria will emerge form Praia, on Santiago, with the right result.

He said: “There are only two new players in camp, Malmo FF’s Innocent Bonke and Bologna’s Kingsley Michael. These players did very well during training.

“None of the UK based players will be with us for the second game. They have to leave after the match tomorrow against Liberia.”

Rohr admitted that the playing surface in Cape Verde would pose a huge challenge for the players, adding that it is difficult to move from a grass pitch to an AstroTurf after just two days of training on it.

“From a heavy grass to a very dry synthetic pitch, we have to show our solidarity and manage this position,” Rohr said.

A win for Nigeria tomorrow will put them in a commanding position in Group C.

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