Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has hinted at a first cap for teenage forward Samuel Chukwueze‚ who plays for Villarreal in Spain’s La Liga‚ against Bafana Bafana in the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The former junior international has earned a first call-up and could play a role when the Super Eagles meet Bafana bent on revenge at FNB Stadium on November 17.
“Chukwueze has a good left foot‚ is quick‚ has a low centre of gravity‚ which gives him a very good balance‚ and he can deliver and score‚” Rohr said. “We need a player like him to give us balance in attack and he can also play through the middle.”
The 19-year-old scored against Almería on his domestic debut for Villarreal last week‚ before starting again in the 1-1 draw with Levante at the weekend.
He had previously featured for “Yellow Submarine” (Villa -real’s nickname) in the Uefa Europa League and also for the club’s reserves this season.
He won the bronze boot as the third-best player at the 2015 Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile after scoring three goals as Nigeria lifted the title.
Chippa United goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi could start for Nigeria against Bafana after firstchoice stopper Francis Uzoho was forced to pull out of the squad with injury.
Uzoho has been replaced by Enyimba gloveman Theophilus Afelokhai‚ who joins clubmate Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Akpeyi as the options for Rohr.
It looks like a straight shootout between Ezenwa and Akpeyi for a starting berth after Uzoho was in goals for both games recently against Libya.
Akpeyi was in the starting line-up when Bafana won 2-0 in Uyo in June 2016 to get their Nations Cup qualification off the perfect start.
The Chippa keeper committed a howler to set up Tokelo Rantie’s 54th-minute opener for SA‚ as Bafana earned their first competitive victory against the Eagles.
Akpeyi’s last cap came in the 4-2 win over Argentina last November‚ while he was an unused substitute at the World Cup in Russia.
● SA Football Association presiden Danny Jordaan has been admitted to hospital suffering from a heavy bout of influenza but is expected to be discharged on Friday.
Jordaan‚ who has had a hectic schedule of travel in his capacity as a Confederation of African Football (Caf) executive committee member‚ was admitted on Sunday with doctors concerned about him developing pneumonia‚ he said. He had been put on oxygen and a drip to help him recover. Contacted by phone‚ Jordaan said he was improving and hoped to be discharged before the weekend.
Jordaan recently lost a bid to win a place on the Fifa Council‚ the most powerful body in world soccer‚ when Caf president Ahmad Ahmad supported fringe candidate Walter Nyamilandu of Malawi instead.
Jordaan‚ 67, travelled extensively before the vote in Egypt seeking support across the continent and it is likely the stress caught up with him.