World Cup 2018: Nigeria Team, Predicted Playing XI and Starting Lineup vs Iceland
UPDATE: Nigeria have announced their lineup.
Nigeria XI vs Iceland: Uzoho; Omeruo, Balogun, Ekong, Idowu; Etebo, Ndidi; Moses, Mikel, Musa; Iheanacho.
The 2018 World Cup hasn't been kind to many African teams so far and Nigeria need a win to stay in the hunt for a spot in the knockout stages. Egypt and Morocco have already been eliminated while Tunisia have work to do. Only Senegal have kicked off their campaign with a win.
Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr has brought a youthful squad to Russia with more than half the squad aged 25 and under. Only four players are in their 30s. It looks more like a team being blooded for the 2022 World Cup rather than going far in this edition.
The Super Eagles have it all to do, though, if they want to reach the Round of 16. They did manage to qualify for the knockout stages in Brazil in 2014 but a fifth game at a World Cup continues to remain elusive for the three-time African champions.
A 2-0 loss to Croatia in the first game was hard to take but judging by the way the Croatians destroyed Argentina 3-0, Nigeria can gain some confidence ahead of the next two games. And Nigeria coach Rohr is confident his young side can get all three points against Iceland.
"For me, it's no question to lose, I don’t think we'll lose, so I don’t ask this question myself," Rohr answered when questioned how a defeat could impact his future.
"You can ask me again after the game, but I tell you we will not lose." - Gernot Rohr
Iceland are no pushovers. They are not even considered underdogs even though this is their first World Cup while this is Nigeria's sixth. Their 1-1 draw with Iceland underlined their credentials as a force to be reckoned with at this tournament.
How will Nigeria line up against Iceland?
There is a possibility that Rohr will name the same starting lineup that started against Croatia. The 6 ft 5 in Francis Uzoho will continue to start in goal.
"I don't let the history get to me," Uzoho said on Thursday. "I know what Nigerians expect from goalkeepers."
Nigeria are expected to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation - the same formation they used against Croatia. William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun could start in central defence with Abdullahi Shehu at right-back and Brian Idowu at left-back.
The double-pivot in front of them will see Las Palmas midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo and Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi paired together in midfield. John Obi Mikel, who usually plays as a central midfielder, will play in the no.10 role again.
On either side of him in attacking midfield will be Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Chelsea's Victor Moses. The two players will be tasked with advancing the ball and being the creative force for the side.
Iwobi is more effective through the centre but he was asked to drift wide against Croatia which saw him struggle. If he is tasked with drifting in, Nigeria have a good chance to score. Up front will be Odion Ighalo.
Nigeria XI and Formation
Note: This article will be updated with the confirmed starting lineups.
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