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Will Nigeria play three at the back or four, and other questions

Nigeria's Super Eagles will attempt to get their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification back on track when they take on Seychelles in Victoria on Saturday.

Gernot Rohr's team trail Libya and South Africa after a 2-0 opening day defeat to Bafana Bafana last year, though with six qualification games to contest, game two is hardly make or break.

As they take on one of Africa's lesser-ranked sides, here are five questions that the team will need to answer.

Ighalo and the search for redemption

When naming his squad, Rohr explained that picking Odion Ighalo was to give the forward a chance to earn back his stripes after what was inarguably a disappointing World Cup for the former Watford man.

It is both relief and pressure for Ighalo, and pretty much a Last Chance Saloon situation. His goal-scoring record with Nigeria is not the best, just four goals in 21 appearances.

That is a poor record for an international striker, let alone one expected to lead the line. To put it in current perspective, Kelechi Iheanacho has 14 in 27 games.

Seychelles should be easy enough pickings for Ighalo, especially considering his current hot streak in China where he has banged in seven goals in six appearances.

His overall game, including link up play, is almost peerless among the current crop, but if he does not find the net against Seychelles, those calls for his head will turn into screeches and not even Rohr might be able to save him.

How does Rohr cope with injuries?

The build up to this game has been torrid for Rohr. No less than five of his core team have been forced to withdraw from the squad, including influential captain John Obi Mikel and Arsenal's Alex Iwobi.

William Troost-Ekong, the beacon of the defence who played every minute of the World Cup qualifiers and the tournament itself, has also withdrawn.

The last time this happened, the coach fielded a youngish team at home to South Africa. The result of that decision proved to be a hard lesson to learn.

How Rohr copes with the same situation, just over a year down the line, will determine whether his team makes it to Cameroon next June or not.

Three at the back, or four?

During the World Cup, the coach started with four defenders and ended up being totally routed by Croatia. For the very next game, he went three at the back and earned a valuable win.

Prior to that, his team had played some of their best football against difficult opposition while playing with three backs. Rohr has refused to commit fully to either system though, telling KweséESPN that he will make a decision much closer to the game.

"We can play with three and we can play with four. But we have to see when it is time," he hedged.

Seychelles are not the powers that England, Serbia, Croatia, Iceland or Argentina are. And if Rohr does as Rohr does, expect four at the back to start with.

Midfield conundrum

Captain Mikel's absence offers up some intriguing possibilities in how Rohr will shape his midfield. Veteran Ogenyi Onazi lost his spot to Oghenekaro Etebo in the build up to, and during, the World Cup.

But after losing so many experienced players, Rohr may be wary of making the same mistake he made last year, and one more experienced head in the lineup should be a no-brainer. That means Etebo will likely shift into the Mikel position while Onazi holds with Wilfred Ndidi.

However, Rohr may feel he has more than enough experience with Etebo and Ndidi, especially with the energy of the Stoke man, and decide instead to throw in the young Kelechi Nwakali to wreak havoc among the hosts with his vision and passing.

Goals or points?

Nigeria go into matchday twice disadvantaged. First, the home loss on matchday one leaves the Super Eagles three points behind leaders Libya and South Africa.

Then there is the issue of Libya's big goals difference when they beat Seychelles 5-1. Those two deficits will need correcting very quickly.

The question will be how Rohr approaches it. Does he just go for the points and hope to claim wins later on against both the group frontrunners, or does he try to exert pressure by getting his charges to go on a goal-scoring spree?

Either way, the approach, and perhaps result, should give us more insight into the mentality of the Super Eagles coach, if not his team.

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