Ahead of crucial world cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic this week, I take a look at Nigeria's midfield set up to determine whether it is fit for for purpose. What prompted focus on this department was a recent statement attributed to Victor Ikpeba where he said the Super Eagles lacks creativity in the midfield.
To be honest, not so many midfield-combos in world football these days create goals with pomp. What you need is solidity.
A midfield comprising of Iwobi, Aribo and Ndidi is very solid. It is not difficult to break down and doesn’t concede possession easily. They drive the ball up the pitch purposefully and they do enough to get results or keep the team in the match.
Ndidi for one has improved tremendously and now contribes in creating goal scoring opportunities for Nigeria. Frank Onyeka is another solid midfielder whose movements help maintain the shape of the team. He brings balance and helps to recycle possession.
This combo does create goals as evident in games against Ukraine, Algeria (Afcon) and several other matches. Can it be better? Absolutely. But our current crop of midfielders are by no means inadequate.
There are several names (like Nwakali) brandished about by fans as the ultimate midfield specimen. Obviously if Rohr feels such players will add value to his set up, he would extend invitation to them. For now, the German wizard is getting results with players he elects to work with.
I think Ikpeba is looking for “flair midfielders”. This we don’t have in abundance but flair players don’t necessarily win matches. What you need is a midfield capable of driving results with resulute and steely displays while complementing other departments.
The midfielders Rohr tends to invite fit perfectly with what he wants to achieve at this time.