MIDFILDER Innocent Bonke and Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze are poised to miss tomorrow’s Wold Cup play-off against Ghana in Abuja after picking up injuries during the first let played in Kumasi last Thursday.
Bonke, 26, who was only earning his second cap last Thursday, is said to have picked up a hamstring injury that will keep him out of action for three weeks. Currently plying his trade with French side Lorient, Bonke was only brought into the team at the last minute as a replacement for Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi.
Chukwueze for his part is thought to have suffered a muscular injury that will keep him out for up to a month. Both players were substituted in Thursday and their absence will call for a reshuffling of the team, especially as coach Augustine Eguavoen us under pressure to adjust his flawed tactics.
Last week Eguavoen opted for a 4-2-4 leading to Nigeria constantly losing the ball in midfield and denying the frontmen the much needed service. This allowed the Ghanaians to dominate possession in the middle of the park and there are now calls for the team to switch to a more modern 4-3-3 formation tomorrow.
Eguavoen has been out of day-to-day coaching for the last 15 years and his absence from the game is glaring. He is trying to replicate the 4-4-2 which Clemence Westerhoff used so successfully but the formation is now way out of date and apart from that Eguavoen does not have the right crop of players with which to play it.
With the stales very high, the Nigerian Football Federation is expected to apply the pressure on Eguavoen to change tactics. As is the case with the five other such games across Africa, the winner of tomorrow’s game in Abuja gets to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.