There is just over a month to go until Nigeria play Cameroon in a World Cup qualifying double-header that will have far-reaching consequences for the country’s football.
Failure to qualify for two successive African Cup of Nations tournaments has left the current NFF leadership walking something of a slippery slope. Fans and media have continually used those failures as a measure of the federation’s lack of competence.
Those rumblings have slowed down since NFF President Amaju Pinnick masterminded the stunning electoral defeat of former CAF President Issa Hayatou, and also getting himself elected into the CAF Executive Committee.
But it has meant that the NFF have been somewhat compelled to put all its eggs in the World Cup basket. Sitting top of the group with six points, the Super Eagles are as close to qualifying for the World Cup as they are from losing it all.
Those were the injury-enforced absentees. Rohr left out others as part of a deliberate point of trying to lower the age of the Super Eagles. Forwards Odion Ighalo and Brown Ideye were among those casualties.
As the German gets set to name his squad for Cameroon, his focus will be on which of his experienced players to recall.
Captain Mikel is making steady recovery and is back to doing ball work, but does not look like he will be match-fit before the game. Moses has recovered from toe surgery and – fingers crossed – should be fit and ready for Cameroon. So is Leon Balogun.
This month’s Africa Nations Championship gives him an opportunity to assess third-choice Ikechukwu Ezenwa, even if it will be only against Benin.
It is up-front though, that Rohr will need to have a serious conversation with himself. Does he stick with his young, inexperienced, international neophytes like Victor Osimhen, Kayode Olanrewaju and Henry Onyekuru? Or does he drop one of that three to welcome the power, link-up play, experience and goals of Ighalo?
Ighalo has found his goalscoring touch again after bedding-in in China with Shanghai Shenhua. Having scored only twice between March and June, the 28-year-old has hit the most purple of patches in July, scoring six goals in four matches, including two braces.
More than that, his physical game, strength and link-up play are exactly what Rohr needs for Cameroon, not to mention the guidance he could offer the youngsters.