It was a gloom day for Nigerian football yesterday after the 1-0 loss in Alexandria. Every Super Eagle fan knew what the result meant; ...
It was a gloom day for Nigerian football yesterday after the 1-0 loss in Alexandria. Every Super Eagle fan knew what the result meant; a second successive absence from the African Cup of Nations for a country who only won it in 2013 (2 editions ago).
Nigeria's fate wasn't helped by the withdrawal of Chad from the qualifying competition on Sunday, reducing Group G to three teams and meaning there is no chance of a place for Nigeria as one of the two best second-place teams.
Here are some of the lessons we picked up from the game.
Better Understanding At The Back
For a long duration in the first half, the shaky backline of the Super Eagles that fell apart in the 91st minute in Kaduna which allowed Salah to grab a goal looked pretty decent. They won the ball back neatly and limited the Egyptians to just 2 long range shots (and the unfortunate deflection with led to the goal)
|Amuzie tries to win the ball against Mohammed Salah in the encounter|
Each time the Pharoahs attacked, there were enough green shirts back to win possession with Mikel and Etebo shielding the back 4 on numerous occasions hence pegging Egypt in their own half. In addition, the second half introduction of Elderson Echiejile provided a better balance on the left flank and kept Salah at bay.
Although there were moments of worry when right back Shehu Abdullahi lost the ball and presented a chance to Egypt in the first half nonetheless the overall defensive performance was better upgrade from the game in Kaduna and Siasia must be commended.
No Midfield Link Up
One peculiar problem with the Super Eagles team in the past couple of years is the lack of a proper No.10 that can link up play from the midfield to the attack. It was lacking again against Egypt with Etebo and Aminu Umar failing to live up to the billing.
|Etebo and Mikel Obi failed to provide the perfect link up from midfield for Ighalo who was isolated up front|
Since the retirement of Jay Jay Okocha, there hasn’t been any player in that mould who could replace the role he played in the team. Odion Ighalo who feeds on supply was completely isolated for a large part of the encounter save the few minutes Iwobi was on.
If we must rebuild this team, we will need to start grooming an attacking midfielder that will perfectly fit into that role
Iwobi Is One For The Future
Arsenal youngster Alex Iwobi earned his international debut against Egypt playing both games as a substitute. His instant impact on the team after he came on in both games was very clear.
In the first meeting between the two teams in Kaduna, the 19 year old threaded a perfect through ball to Victor Moses who was unfortunate to have his shot cleared off the line. In the game yesterday, the teenager slid in a through ball for Ighalo after coming on; the first time the Watford striker actually had a clear cut chance in the entire game.
|Iwobi showed some promising signs after coming off the bench for the second game running|
One could argue that maybe if he had come on earlier enough or even started the game, Nigeria could have posed more threat in attack. The attacking midfielder made promising runs and his pass execution is exquisite.
Every Nigerian must be delighted he chose to play for his fatherland rather than England. Going forward, whoever eventually gets the Super Eagles job can rebuild the team around Alex and other exciting talents in our Arsenal.
The Mikel Obi Concern
One aspect lacking in Mikel Obi’s game is his passing. The new skipper of the National team gave a good account of himself playing just in front of the back 4 as defensive cover. The Chelsea man broke play on a number of occasions and won tackles neatly and in a calm manner but whenever he wins the ball that’s where the problem comes; he can’t pass to save his life!
|Mikel Obi had a fair game but his passing let him down once again|
He either squares the ball to a team mate or goes all the way back. As the leader of the pack and by far the most experienced in the team, one would expect a bit more from him.
Victor Moses Display
Brows were raised when Siasia’s line up showed Moses Simon was dropped to the bench but his replacement and namesake can be pleased with his evening’s work. He did himself no harm with that performance making surging runs forward and tormenting the Egyptian defence with his pace.
|West Ham winger Victor Moses was Nigeria's biggest threat up front and was unlucky when his shot struck the upright|
He even game closest for the Eagles with hi 20 yard shot which canoed off the upright. His performance was a big contrast to Ahmed Musa’s who operated on the right. The CSKA Moscow forward failed to spark throughout the game and was more disappointing than he was some days ago at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium
Going forward, I'd like to see Samson Siasia lead the Super Eagles rebuilding process. Giving more time, I believe he can bring the best out of this group of young and raw talents. What do you think?Let's know. Comment below