There is nothing that gets to me than lazy journalism. A good article has to ask and answer the right questions and not leave the reader confused. I can’t seem to make any sense of the statement attributed to Gernot Rohr from various online media outlets in relation to Super Eagles defenders not doing well.
"We’ve too many strikers doing well and scoring in Europe, but very few defenders doing well.” Gernot Rohr
What does that mean? What is the definition of ‘well’ in this context? Without contextualising what Rohr purportedly said, it is downright impossible to attempt to offer a critique. Rohr might be right, our defenders might not be doing well but without knowing what ‘well’ means in his lexicon, I don’t know whether our defenders are doing well in his eyes. A good journalist would have prized this out of Rohr. For me, our defenders are doing exceedingly well as can be seen from the narratives below on the 11 members of the Super Eagles defence line. Any suggestion to the contrary is hogwash.
2020/21 Season Performances 1) Tyrone Ebuehi (21 league appearances and 1 yellow card): having banished the injury demons that plagued him for the better part of last season, Ebuehi has made the right fullback position in FC Twente his personal property with sturdy and solid performances in the league. Ebuehi – from all accounts – is doing well in Holland and his inclusion in the Super Eagles squad will instil confidence. 2)William Troost-Ekong (19 league appearances, 1 goal and 2 yellow cards): Ekong has played 63% of games for Watford this season – that is a lot of games in a bitterly competitive league. Crucially, he has played 7 of the last 8 league games. A hugely experienced centre back, Ekong is doing well and will be expected to put on a quality shift for Nigeria in March. 3)Leon Balogun (15 league appearances, 1 assist and 0 yellow card): the best Nigerian centre back at the moment, Balogun has been benched in 4 out of the last 5 league matches for Rangers. Still, he has played a healthy amount of games and continues to feature in cup competitions. Plus he has been colossal for the Super Eagles in recent outings. I really don’t see any cause for alarm regarding Balogun’s form. Perhaps he is one of the ones Rohr is talking about!!! 4)Kenneth Omeruo (15 league games, 0 goal and 4 yellow cards): though error-prone, Omeruo is an established and committed Nigeria international. He is super-active for his club having featured in the last 7 games with a goal to his name. Perhaps his disciplinary record is a source of concern with 4 yellow cards. But in all, I think he is more than ready for the tasks ahead. 5)Semi Ajayi (23 games, 2 goals and 3 yellow cards): okay, his sloppy performances for Wes Brom have been a source of concern for me on occasions however, Ajayi is fit, sharp and has played a heck of a lot of top flight games. This augurs well for his preparedness for Super Eagles challenges ahead. Along with his weaknesses comes his strengths. English Premier League exposure is also not something to be sniffed at. Perhaps Rohr is concerned about aspects of Ajayi’s game (who knows). 6)Chidozie Awaziem (15 league games and 5 yellow cards): Awaziem continues his development as a centre defender in Portugal with decent displays sadly charred by a poor disciplinary record. He has actually captained his team twice this season. His versatility will continue to be an asset to the Super Eagles. Maybe Rohr is worried about Awaziem’s disciplinary record but he is seeing healthy gametime. 7)Zaidu Sanusi (17 league games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 yellow and 1 red card): okay, he has lost his starting position at Porto recently however the Super Eagles first choice left back continues to feature regularly across competitions. He is very much dialled in and I have no worries for his readiness to tackle the challenges of March qualifiers. 8)Ola Aina (20 league matches 2 goals and yellow cards): for me, the cream of the crop. Aina is the most flamboyant and classy Super Eagles fullback and one of the best in the English Premier League (if I may say so). He is very ready for March assignments following a string of eye catching performances in England. 9)Jamilu Collins (12 league games, 0 goals and 4 yellow cards): Collins has played 90 minutes each in 3 out for Paderborn’s last 4 games. Okay he has missed 9 out of 21 league games but is that a source of concern? I would not bat an eyelid if Collins makes the Super Eagles squad. His experience cannot be discounted. 10)Brian Idowu (17 league games, 2 goals, 1 assist, 4 yellow and 1 red cards): the forgotten Tsar of Nigerian football. It is unfortunate that Idowu has rediscovered his footing at club football at a time when Super Eagles chances are slipping him by. But if called upon (based on what I have seen of his game in Russia this season) Idowu should be ready to perform yeoman’s job in Nigeria colours.
11) Shehu Abdulahi (19 league appearances and 4 yellow cards): never one to play in high profile leagues, shehu's performances for Nigeria are scarcely low in the quality of his output nonetheless. He is mega-active in Cyprus which bodes well for his readiness and sharpness to kit for the Super Eagles if called upon to do so in March qualifiers. In all, I see no cause for concern when it comes to Super Eagles defenders ahead of March qualifiers. Someone should ask Rohr what exactly he is worried about.