It is no longer news that the Super Eagles of Nigeria demolished Sao Tome and Principe 10:0 away in this week's Afcon qualifier fixture. Napoli forward Victor Osimhen scored four goals, while Terem Moffi bagged a brace. Moses Simon, Oghenekaro Etebo, Ademola Lookman and Emmanuel Dennis were also on target for the Super Eagles in the brutalisation.
The players were fantastic. Musa in particular was a joy to watch. Nevermind the calibre of the opposition, the former CSKA Moscow man appears not to lost a yard of pace. He was crisp and sharp. After he came on, Nigeria scored 5 more goals with Musa having a hand in 60% of those goals. Ahmed Musa reminds me of his former Kano Pillars team mate Rabiu Ali who is still going strong at the ripe old age of 41. At the age of 37, Ali didn’t look out of place in the Chan Super Eagles when he scored against Equatorial Guinea in 2018; a true legend of the home based Super Eagles and a veritable veteran of the NPFL. Back to yesterday, all the players put up a fine performance. Some shone brighter than others but collectively, they were great. Ademola Lookman seemed slightly subdued. He didn’t feel particularly at home on the right wing. I had expected him to impose himself more on this match owing to the opposition but his performance was still acceptable even though he is capable of far greater quality. Osihmen would have easily scored 6 goals yesterday had he timed his runs to stay onside. If the Napoli man was at his best, at worst he should have had 5 goals yesterday. Iwobi seems to be the only box to box midfielder Nigeria can call on. In the flat 4-4-2 formation that Peseiro uses, he is undoubtedly the ball carrier to disburse passes and to pop up everywhere on the pitch and keep the team moving. Peseiro needs to groom another player who can do that and do it well in the absence of Iwobi. Moses Simon was so effective yesterday. What has become clear is that only the right formation brings out the best in Simon. Under Eguavoen, after Nigeria’s opponents had decoded Nigeria’s overstretched wing play, Simon became useless. Before our opponents could read Eguavoen’s philosophy, Simon reigned supreme. Etebo is not spectacular but he is solid. His performance stood out yesterday in defensive midfield and he topped it up with glorious free kick. He scarcely seems out of place in center midfield and he might wrestle that position from Aribo in the short term. Zaidu was exciting in left fullback in an attacking sense but he still struggled to produce the sort of world class crosses usually attributed to Bassey. Bassey is more versatile and he displayed that yesterday with his fantastic rendition of the centre back role. Ajayi was at home playing at centre back but it will be interesting to see how he continues to hold up against far superior oppositions in games to come. He has somehow ingratiated himself into the heart of Peseiro’s center defence. If he plays his cards right, he might just make a starting shirt permanently his. Aina’s flamboyancy didn’t actually shine through yesterday. Perhaps Peseiro has asked his boys to sacrifice beautiful play in the alter of pragmatism. And Uzoho is currently the number one goalkeeper. If he keeps regularly in club football, the position remains his. Terem Moffi still seems like a striker who needs 10 opportunities to bury 1. He did well yesterday for the most parts but his starting position remains up for grabs. When he is focused, an Iheanacho brings more quality to bear in that position. But, I think Moffi has also curried favour with Peseiro so only a drop in form should see him dropped in September against Guinea Bissau. Emmanuel Dennis is yet to produce that one performance that will single him out as exceptional in Super Eagles colours. He took his penalty well but more is expected particularly against more formidable foes. Sadiq Umar’s goal was not offside. VAR would easily have awarded that goal as he was clearly onside when the initial shit was played. Umar is another player who needs one big memorable performance for the Super Eagles. These 4 games have been encouraging under Peseiro. It is early days but signs are there that the team is moving in the right direction. Perhaps Fanny Amu said it best: “It’s a building process,” he said. “We must be patient with Peseiro. Forget about playing well or playing badly, the most important thing is for us to qualify. If we had played badly and qualified for World Cup, won’t the fans like it?.”
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