As the Super Eagles continue to lick their wounds having allowed Sierra Leone claw their way back from 4 goals down to secure a memorable 4:4 draw in Benin City in Friday's 2021 Afcon qualifier, I belatedly file out a few more observations that came to my mind regarding a number of players that prosecuted the ill-fated encounter for Nigeria.
– Akpoguma: Although a centre defender by trade, Rohr was telling him to look beyond that role if he is to have a realistic chance with the Super Eagles.
Just like Awaziem, Akpoguma needed to prove his mettle has a full back or he could see his Super Eagles chances erode.
So have in 3 games (more so in the last one) Akpoguma gravely underperformed as a right fullback. It now remains to be seen how Rohr would carve out a space for him in the heart of Nigeria's centre defence.
– Okoye: get it right against Sierra Leone and have regular playing time in Holland and the Super Eagles number one shirt might just be his for keeps!
Unfortunately, in the game against Sierra Leone, he became the first Nigerian goalkeeper to concede 4 goals in Super Eagles colours in well over 9 years.
Okoye's chances of claiming Super Eagles number one goalkeeper slot is now severely harmed.
– Ekong and Balogun : ordinarily, if both are available and fit, they will start.
But the Oyinbo wall is becoming shakey with Ekong's inconsistencies. He may be replaced going forward, perhaps for Akpoguma.
– Sanusi : he is now truly ahead of Collins (and perhaps Aina too) in the pecking order of Super Eagles left fullback.
But defensively, he can be found wanting like in the last goal conceded by Nigeria yesterday.
Sanusi's grip on the left fullback position is not yet absolute.
– Etebo : should be expected to start when Ndidi is not available.
Unfortunately he was not an effective defensive midfielder yesterday. Another viable back up to Ndidi is required. Mikel Agu is an obvious option.
– Ahmed Musa: conversations around his relevance to the team and justification for this call up (among fans) are set to continue.
His performances appear to be diminishing in effectiveness.
– Chukwueze : he is now Rohr’s first choice right winger.
He still needs to be able to provide long balls to the likes of Onuachu.
– Iheanacho : is below Osimhen in the Super Eagles pecking order.
The Super Eagles: it is a strong team on paper. In the field of play, they need to (re-) start punching above their weight like in the earlier periods of Rohr’s reign.
The German tactician must show his tactical acumen in coming matches.
An outright win against Sierra Leone in the reverse fixture next Tuesday is a must.
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