In four years, Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr, has managed to deliver good results for Nigeria, but there is no consistent playing pattern for the team. We observe overtime that he makes changes anyhow and insists on ‘rebuilding’.
We also feel by now, the team should be solid with new players coming in to challenge for places. Nigeria is blessed with huge talents in the round leather game, but to deploy them appropriately to suit their respective capabilities and standard are the problem with Rohr and his crew.
The results Rohr posted so far are commendable overall, but the quality of play of the Super Eagles must be better. There must be complete dominance each time Nigeria plays against a less rated team while there should be good coordination which will make fans to have confidence in the team.
We expect Rohr to also read the game better with his assistants. Today, with the country’s football talents scattered across the world, we strongly believe Nigeria should be number one on the continent and be among the best in the world. To achieve this, there should be better planning and motivation from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) such that the players will be eager and more determined to do Nigeria proud.
In the recent FIFA window, it was great to see Eagles regroup again with the two friendly matches the senior national team played in Austria last week. We commend the NFF for ensuring that the players came together to tune up for the Africa Nations Cup qualifiers billed to take place in November.
The outbreak of Coronavirus across the world early this year crippled so many programmes and so it was important that Eagles were part of the FIFA window to prepare for the back-to-back AFCON games scheduled to take place between November 9 and 17 against Sierra Leone.
Top players like Victor Osimhen, Ogenekaro Etebo, and Wilfred Ndidi were ruled out of the friendlies for various legitimate reasons. The absence of two key midfielders reflected in the two games while Osimhen’s absence was also felt. Rohr’s invitation of new names was good but injecting about four of them for the first match against Algeria affected the flow. Former U-17 captain, Samson Tijani, was one of the surprise call-ups along with Portugal-based wing-back Saidu Sanusi, Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland, Denmark), Chidera Ejike (CSKA Moscow) and Matthew Yakubu of SKF Sered, Slovakia. Left back, Sanusi, was a revelation in Austria. He was strong and mobile with consistent moves upfront.
Onyeka was below average while Tijani showed flashes of brilliance within the short time he had. The encounter against Algeria was the most crucial test as it exposed the weaknesses in the technical crew and the team in general.
Algeria as the AFCON defending champions and number one team on the continent deserves respect but one expected the technical crew to change tactics along the line to make the match difficult for the North Africans.
The Eagles were no threat to Algeria in the match and it was the brilliance of Maduka Okoye that ensured the result stood at 1-0 at fulltime. The team lacked pattern and this calls to question about the impact of Rohr in four years. Paul Onuachu was the top striker and the wingers – Samuel Chukwueze and Samuel Kalu – failed to cross the ball for him to get goals. The dribbling style from the wings did not work for Onuachu.
As brilliant as Chukwueze was, his final ball after his runs were poor. Leon Balogun, staging a return to the team, was fantastic in the two games. He was calm and he motivated attack with intelligent runs from the rear. He combined well with William Troost-Ekong against Algeria and also did fine with Kenneth Omeruo in the match against Tunisia.
Omeruo was poor in the 1-1 draw as his sluggishness led to the equalizer. Another returnee, Kelechi Iheanacho, was sharp as a substitute in the first match and in the second, he was very brilliant not only because of the good goal he scored, but for being a persistent threat to the Carthage Eagles all through. Alex Iwobi, Semi Ajayi and Moses Simon were just average in the two games while skipper Ahmed Musa was clearly a minus for the team. Okoye and Balogun were consistent in the two games.
Chukwueze was also good but could have done better. However, Mikel Agu and Ajayi did not prove to be a good back up for the midfield. In the two games, the approach looked like a no striker situation and false nine style. Onuachu was more useful in the defence than the attack. Going forward, we expect the impact of new assistant coach Joseph Yobo should be felt with the defence line of the Eagles while there is need for a good back-up for Osimhen.
Iheanacho can only play better behind a striker not as the top man. And so the NFF should raise the bar for Rohr to get good results and guarantee great quality of play on each match day. We make bold to say a consistent quality game play will always guarantee a good result and so Rohr should fashion out a pattern.