Former Nigeria international goalkeeper David Ngodigha reckons the Super Eagles will miss Danny Shittu following his withdrawal from the team’s preparations for the 2013 Afcon.
Report by Supersport
The big defender withdrew shortly after he was named in Nigeria’s 32-man provisional squad, preferring to concentrate on Millwall’s push for promotion to the English Premiership.
Ngodigha said: “It is a big loss for the Eagles, as Shittu has been in good form for his club and nobody can question his commitment in the past to Nigeria.
“He never shied away from his responsibilities and often covered the full backs when they ventured forward as he is remarkably quick for his size.
“He played with [Joseph] Yobo at the 2008 and 2010 Nations Cup, so their experience would have been vital in holding the defence together,” he added.
Ngodigha said he was not putting into question the quality of the other defenders, but that it was clear the Eagles may struggle should any of the regular defenders become unavailable in the course of the competition.
“I think Keshi already knows those who would start in his defence, and most of them did not play in the recent friendly against Catalonia,” he said.
“Experience would play a part, and Elderson Echiejile, Yobo, Efe Ambrose and perhaps Kenneth Omeruo are the favourites to start, but should they be ruled out of any match for any reason then there could be a problem.
“The fringe players appeared to rise to the occasion against Catalonia, but it may have been different if the opposition had something at stake.
“There were two clear chances in the second half the Catalans may have tucked away in a more contentious situation, so lets not get carried away by the result as the defence still needs urgent attention.”
Nigeria will play another friendly against Cape Verde on January 9.
They will kick-off their Afcon campaign on January 21 against Burkina Faso in Nespruit.