Former Super Eagles midfielder Garba Lawal has disagreed with Gernot Rohr over Wilfred Ndidi’s suspension for the Cameroon 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg November 16.
Ndidi got his second yellow card of the qualifiers on Tuesday when the Eagles defeated Libya 3-2 to top Group E, which automatically disqualifies the midfielder for the next match against South Africa.
The Super Eagles coach said the Leicester City defensive midfielder would not be missed as there were ready replacements for him in the team. Rohr said John Ogu or Ogenyi Onazi could fill the void created the suspension of Nidid.
“My team will cope without Ndidi. We have others like Ogu John who can play there and then Onazi too who can also play there. We will cope without him,” Rohr told the media in Sfax during the week.
But Lawal, who spoke with The Punch Newspaper on the telephone, disagreed with Rohr saying Ndidi would be missed by the team, adding that his importance as a regular member of the team had ensured that his role would be difficult to play by another player.
“First off, the yellow card he received was not necessary and he has created a vacuum that will be hard to fill for the team with that action of his,” Lawal said.
“As a player who had played in every match, his role will be hard to fill because he has mastered the relationship between the defenders and the strikers. An established defensive midfielder in any team is like the window between the defence and the attack of that team – that is what Ndidi has become to the Eagles.
“The match against South Africa is very important because the hosts will want to take all the points as it is more important to them than to Nigeria. So, Nigeria has to resist it with all their might. The team will definitely miss Ndidi in that game, and they will find it hard to cope without him.”
Lawal, however, believes that the 21-year-old could lose his place in the team if his replacement puts up a better performance in the match.
He said, “The danger of having such developments as this is that it brings out the creativity in the coach. He is now forced to find an alternative for that role. The player called upon will want to impress the coach too and show he deserves a starting place in the team.
“Given the importance of the match and the competitiveness of the opponents, he may do better than Ndidi would have done and that may give him the starting role ahead of the returning player in the next match.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 years ago