Friendly matches offer the technical crew the opportunity to experiment and undertake a SWOT analysis of a team.
The Super Eagles isn’t an exception, and ahead of the friendly against Poland — first of the pre-World Cup matches — football pundits and fans will be expecting some of the fringe players to fight for starting berths.
Who is a fringe player?
A player who is good enough to make the team but rarely features in the starting line-up, or at best, plays during injury time or when a key member of the squad is injured.
In the current Super Eagles setup, Kenneth Omeruo, Tyronne Ebuehi, John Ogu, Ola Aina, Brian Idowu, Uche Agbo, Chidozie Awaziem and Ahmed Musa are on the fringes.
As the World Cup approaches, it is time for the fringe players to warm themselves into the heart of coach Gernot Rohr.
With their performances in the friendly against Argentina, Ebuehi, Idowu and Musa showed they can rise to the occasion and the upcoming games against Poland, Serbia and England should serve as opportunities to further prove their mettle.
Critics have always opposed the inclusion of Agbo in the Super Eagles. Over time, he has been labelled “training material” — but no one can deny that the Standard Liege star has fared well in the Belgium Jupiler League this season.
Awaziem showed maturity against Argentina, while Omeruo, who many has written off, has been consistent for Kasimpasa in the Turkish Super Lig.
Musa has become rejuvenated with his loan move to CSKA Moscow while Aina and Idowu have enjoyed regular action for Amker Perm and Hull City respectively.
The fringe players have the capacity to become regulars in the starting XI of the Super Eagles if they perform at their peak during the upcoming games, starting with the friendly against Poland.