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‘Suprised’ Paderborn defender Jamilu Collins keen on making Nigeria’s left-back slot his – football news

Jamilu Collins admits having been taken aback after receiving news of his first ever call-up to the Nigeria national side ahead of last month’s international duties against Seychelles and Liberia.
 
The 24-year-old turns out for Paderborn SC in the 2. Bundesliga in Germany and his invite to join the Super Eagles came as a surprise as he never expected being on the radar of coach Gernot Rohr and his scouts.
 
“At first, it was surprising, despite the fact that I’ve been working really hard in Paderborn,” Collins told GBP Sports .
 
“Secondly, I’ve been praying for it to come and when I got the call-up, I was a little bit surprise – surprise of happiness and it was a joy for me to see that I’ve my country watching over me while playing. I never expected it that they watched me.
 
“It was a great feeling and I was happy about it.”

Jamilu Collins
 
News of players from obscure leagues in Europe and ‘China’ getting invites to represent the Super Eagles are not always met with great reception by fans and the media.
 
Collins, who plies his trade in the second tier of the German league, was the latest to get that treatment.
 
Asked if he read into reactions – and criticisms – on the social media, the former Rijeka defender said: “No, I didn’t because usually before people can react [they have to follow the football there].

“I know that if you follow football very well you’d never react [badly to a player invited from the 2. Bundesliga].
 
“When you don’t follow football, you can’t [have a] say… but it’s normal. This is not the first time, we have such everywhere.”
 
Aged 18, the Kaduna native was called up by John Obuh for the 2013 Toulon Tournament where he made no appearance.
 
Five years later after surviving five loan spells from his first professional club Rijeka in Croatia and a promotion from German third-tier league, he was handed his maiden national team invite, alongside England born centre-back Semi Ajayi, also part of Obuh’s set-up in 2013.
 
Also, Super Eagles mainstays Wilfred Ndidi, Moses Simon and Shehu Abdullahi were on the party to France.

And despite their careers charting different courses, he maintains their friendship remains intact.
 
“It was a great experience, great team at that moment but unfortunately things didn’t work out the way we all wanted it; for me and some of my teammates.
 
“I feel good seeing my friends again and we chat like before and the relationship is back again, so it’s a great feeling.”
 
In Seychelles camping, Collins left a good first impression on Rohr whom during Libya’s pre-match presser on Thursday revealed that injury limited the newbie’s chances in last month’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers win over Seychelles before he was handed his debut in the friendly win against Liberia in Monrovia days later.
 
“Good, good physique, he’s quick, he can go forward, he’s defensively strong,” the German tactician lauded his defensive and attacking qualities – as well as the width and balance his left foot brings to the team.
 
The Paderborn man was handed his first competitive outing in Saturday’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Libya in Uyo where, although he was largely conservative in his approach, was lit by a fine attacking burst in the first half.
 
Collins showed perhaps what Elderson Echiejile and Co. lacked, going fully on the offensive after being let loose by a clever reverse pass from Alex Iwobi.
 
The ‘quick’ left-back showed great composure to dart into the Mediterranean Knights’ box before seeing his deft chip cannon off the crossbar, thus denying him a first Super Eagles goal.
 
He admitted to being able to carry out whatever the coach’s ‘instructions’ were.

Jamilu Collins
 
“My style of play; I play to instructions, I play to what the coach wants. We are all professionals, we have quality,” he continued.
 
“The way the coach asks me to do, I do.”
 
While Echiejile has held the left-back position for the better part of the last decade, several players including Juwon Oshaniwa, Stanley Amuzie and Kingsley Madu have auditioned for the role but failed to nail down a regular spot – till right-footed Brian Idowu’s emergence prior to this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
 
With the oft-criticised 30-year-old Echiejile unlikely to return soon [as he is yet to find a club after he was released by Monaco during the last transfer window] and Rohr seemingly looking for a round peg to fill the round hole, the Paderborn player is in pole position to make the spot his own for years.
 
Asked what he’d do to keep it, he said: “I’ll play my football, playing the same style I’m best at.
 
“Everything! The same way I play my football. The same thing the coach saw in me that made him invite me.”

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Collins’ performance against Libya in Uyo might just have won him another chance to impress, again, against Libya, but in Sfax, Tunisia on Tuesday.

 

 

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Gernot Rohr: Ighalo is answering his critics with goals – football news

Gernot Rohr is proud of Odion Ighalo after he responded to his critics with three goals against Libya on Saturday.

The Changchun Yatai striker helped the Super Eagles cruise to a 4-0 win over the north African in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash, with Samuel Kalu added the fourth.

Fuelled by his awe-inspiring performance, the German felt vindicated for maintaining his resolve to stick with the China-based striker.

“I am very happy about the comeback of Ighalo,” Rohr told media.

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“This is because he has been really criticised on the social media which I think it was beyond the limit of humanism.

“I am really happy that he is giving the answer on the pitch with goals.”

Nigeria will face the Mediterranean Knights in the reserve fixture in Sfax, Tunisia on Tuesday.

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Super Eagles will give their best against Libya, assures Henry Onyekuru – football news

Henry Onyekuru has assured that the Nigeria national team will give their best when they clash with Libya in an African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

On Saturday, the three-time African champions will host the Mediterranean Knights at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo before playing the second leg on Tuesday.

The north Africans are on top of Group E with four points ahead of the Super Eagles who are a point adrift in third spot after two rounds.

And the Galatasaray forward is upbeat that Gernot Rohr’s men will make the country proud by ensuring they win the doubleheader.

“We know what the coach want from us which is to give our best against Libya,” Onyekuru told NFF media.

“That is exactly what we intend to do in both games.

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“We will work very hard to win and make our nation proud.”

 

 

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Gernot Rohr defends Ighalo’s invitation, spoilt for attacking option vs. Libya – football news

Odion Ighalo’s impressive form in China made him a shoo-in in Gernot Rohr’s set-up to face Libya in an African Cup of Nations qualifiers doubleheader on Saturday, the coach said.

The striker has bagged 20 goals in 25 Chinese Super League games for Changchun Yatai this season and, although Rohr acknowledged his below-par outing at the World Cup, his showings in Asia were enough reason to hand him a second consecutive call-up after the disappointing summer in Russia.

“Ighalo is a player who did very well for the country during the World Cup qualifiers, particularly against Cameroon,” Rohr said in a pre-match conference.

“He had a difficult World Cup, which was not so easy for him, but he is doing well for his club having scored over 20 goals – it was a good reason to invite him.

“And we don’t have the time to change all our offensive players and that was why we invited Isaac Success.”

With eight attackers part of the 24-man squad for the doubleheader, the Super Eagles are blessed with several offensive talents, each offering a dynamic to how the German tactician – who hopes the new ones strike the right chord with the existing players – opts to attack.

“The problem is to find the understanding with the other players. We have a new player in Samuel Kalu, so we need more communication,” he continued.

“We can also play like we did against Iceland with two strikers, where we lined up Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho.

“We also have Henry Onyekuru who plays for Galatasaray. He scored a fantastic goal against Liberia. So we are good in that area.

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“Also the spirit of competition is now there in the team.

“Winning Libya won’t be easy, that’s why we are preparing hard for this game. With two wins, we are through to the Afcon,” he concluded.

 

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I’ve corrected my mistakes – Watford’s Success pleased with Nigeria return – football news

Watford forward Isaac Success declared he felt ‘glad’ following his return to the Nigeria national team.

Success made his senior debut against Senegal on March 23, 2017 but was frozen out of the Super Eagles no thanks to injuries and loss off form.

Following his invitation for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya, the former Granada man is aware that he will fall under particular scrutiny and hopes he gets back in contention for a regular place in Gernot Rohr’s team.

“I’m glad to be back and it’s good to see my friends as well representing Nigeria,” said Success during Thursday’s media parley.

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“I’ve been outside the Nigerian team for two years. For me, I don’t think it’s my performance that influenced the coach’s decision because I know we have a couple of players in Europe that are doing well, even better than me and they haven’t gotten called up.

“For me, I just think two years back, there’s been mistake that were made and those mistakes have been corrected and I’ve been fitter than before. So, I’m just here to do what I need to do.”

 

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Nigeria vs. Libya: Who should Gernot Rohr start in defence? – football news


COMMENT    By Seye Omidiora      Follow on Twitter
 


There are hardly never questions asked in the aftermath of every Nigeria squad announcement, and it was no different following Gernot Rohr’s latest 23-man group for the upcoming double-header with Libya.

Laden with five center-backs and four full-backs, Rohr’s decision to invite nine defenders in total raised eyebrows in some quarters. The CBs include: Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem and Semi Ajayi. While the full-backs are: Brian Idowu, Abdullahi Shehu, Ola Aina and Jamilu Collins. William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun and Alex Iwobi of Nigeria

Based on the antecedent, you sense that the pair of Balogun and Troost-Ekong will play in central defence, with Idowu and Shehu occupying both full-back roles, if Rohr opts for four at the back. While electing to play with a back five will see the introduction of Leganes loanee Omeruo in central defence to complete the trio.

Given Rohr’s rigid style of not wanting to overly tweak things, irrespective of players’ form, it won’t be hard to think he’d plump for his tried and trusted side against Libya. In all honesty, owing to the fact that few changes (in the South Africa game) led to a 2-0 home defeat, you’d understand the German tactician’s line of thought in sticking with those he trusts. On the other hand, one might ask if those options would be the right choice given their varying levels of form and fitness.

While Troost-Ekong, irrespective of a recent dip in form, has had a bright start to life in Italy with Udinese, Balogun hasn’t had the rub of the green with Brighton & Hove Albion, with Chris Hughton continuing with his preferred pair of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. An injury to Dunk in the Seagulls’ 3-2 win over Manchester United saw Balogun replace the Englishman for the remainder of that encounter, before reprising his role in a 1-0 defeat at Anfield a week later.

But the former Mainz defender hasn’t featured for the Albion in the Premier League since Dunk’s accelerated return, and you fear his lack of fitness could hamper him against the Mediterranean Knights.

In other circumstances, Rohr might, unusually, have had doubts about his other central defensive pick against the North Africans, but the fact that Omeruo and Awaziem are barely getting reasonable game time for Leganes and Porto respectively will probably make his choice an easy one. The former has only seen 61 minutes of football in the Spanish topflight, while the latter hasn’t made a single appearance for the Blue and Whites. Semi Ajayi - Rotherham United

In fact, of the other three center-backs in the squad, only Ajayi – who has just two Super Eagles caps – has gotten ample appearances this term, with Rotherham United in the English Championship. When you take into account the fact his pair of appearances came against Seychelles (where he was introduced for the injured Awaziem for the last quarter of the game) and a watered down friendly with Liberia (a game in which he conceded a penalty), then you probably wouldn’t begrudge Rohr for sticking with the ‘Oyibo wall’ at the expense of the in-form, but inexperienced Ajayi.

It’s a lot less complicated in the full-back positions where the incumbents are unlikely to lose their starting berths in the side. Shehu, who only just returned from a layoff and has impressed with Bursaspor, will occupy the right-back spot, while Idowu should retain his place on the opposite side.

The challengers to the aforementioned incumbents are the wet behind the ears duo of Aina and Collins, and their inexperience will ultimately count against them. Ironically, though, the aforementioned pair have seen more game time than the primary occupants of both full-back roles, and might feel their superior match fitness levels gives them a fighting chance. Ola Aina

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A higher case can be made for Torino loanee, Aina, given his beyond impressive performances with the Maroons since his temporary move from Chelsea in the summer. Oddly though, his eye-catching displays for Walter Mazzarri’s side have come at left wing-back, as opposed to his primary position on the right flank – where he strangely delivers below-par performances when played there.

Going by the aforementioned fact; the in-form Aina, as opposed to Collins, then seems to be as a more suitable replacement for Idowu if Rohr elects to switch things up – which is unlikely to happen. It should however be noted that the Blues loanee, like Idowu, is right-footed and the fact that Collins is the only natural left-footed full-back in the squad gives him a slight edge over Aina.

In all honesty, it wouldn’t be so hard to second guess Rohr, but picking a team based solely on form will see him select a back four of Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Ajayi and Aina. However, going by the importance of the Libya fixture, and given the German’s reluctance to make chances if he isn’t backed into a corner, you sense his picks in defence will be Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Balogun and Idowu. Tried and trusted it is then.

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Ikechukwu Ezenwa allays injury fears ahead of Libya clash – football news

Ikechukwu Ezenwa was taken off in the first half of Enyimba’s 4-2 quarter-final loss to Kano Pillars on Sunday in Gombe, but he insists that the injury was not serious.

Ezenwa earned a starting place following the absence of injured first-choice goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai but he could not finish the encounter after suffering a face injury from a collision.

The incidence saw him replaced by Friday Achimugwu, and there are fears he will not be ready for Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification versus Libya in Uyo.

“I thank God that the injury against Kano Pillars was not that serious,” Ezenwa told media.

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“I will be fit for the Libya game and prepared to hit the Super Eagles camp on Monday.

“It was just because of the hit at that point in time and I was not able to see very clearly which made me leave the field of play.

“But after the game, I have recovered very well due to the ice and treatment from our (Enyimba) medical team.”

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