Coach Sunday Oliseh will get a good chance to test more players when the Super Eagles of Nigeria welcome next-door neighbours Niger in a friendly today in Port Harcourt.
“We need to play more friendly matches like the one against Niger as this will help the players fully understand the new system the coach is bringing to the Super Eagles,” said top team official Tijjani Babangida.
The disappointing draw by Nigeria in Tanzania was worsened by the 5-1 spanking Egypt handed down to home team Chad on Sunday to open a two-point gap at the top of the qualifying series for the 2017 AFCON.
The midfield remains a big concern for Oliseh after Obiora Nwankwo and Izunna Uzochukwu failed to rise to the occasion in Dar es Salaam at the weekend as they did not carve out chances for the strikers upfront.
That explained why Bature Yaro (Nasarawa United) and Paul Onobi (Sunshine Stars), both midfielders, were handed late call-ups to the squad.
But the search for top-class midfielders will continue as Nigeria now play catch-up with group leaders Egypt in the race for an automatic place to Gabon 2017.
The return of Lazio youngster Ogenyi Onazi, who was suspended for the Tanzania match, and the injury-prone Joel Obi will be most welcomed.
Home-based Chima Akas, Usman Mohammed and Prince Aggreh are all expected to have run-out against a Niger side, who are still smarting from a 2-0 loss in an AFCON qualifier in Burundi this past weekend.
Foreign-based Godfrey Oboabona and Rabiu Ibrahim will also get a chance to prove themselves to the new boss after they saw no action in the Tanzania game.
Nigeria plan a top friendly against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon next month and Oliseh will therefore play the Niger game with an eye on this proposed clash of rivals in Europe as well as a CHAN qualifier against Burkina Faso also in October.