The Super Eagles finally played a friendly match against Coton Sports of Cameroon on Friday as they step up their preparations for the delayed 2021 Afcon.
My initial 3 observations of Eguavoen’s first Super Eagles instalment based on this tune up match are as follows:
1) The nucleus of Rohr’s starting 11 might form the spine of his (initial) match day squad. The likes of Okoye, Ekong, Ndidi, Aribo, Ejuke could be handed starting berths.
Implication: this spells of continuity of aspects of Rohr’s approach to manpower selection rather that a radical departure. It bodes well for their chances of going far in the tournament
2) Formation: Eguavoen utilised the 4-2-3-1 formation throughout the match. This is the same approach Rohr used to demolish Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The German, by and large, used this as his default formation throughout his controversial reign as Super Eagles gaffer.
Implications: if Eguavoen persists with this constellation, it will be something this set of players are very familiar with which further entrenches the theme of continuity from Rohr’s reign. Again it should make it easier for them to achieve blending.
3) Wing play and overlapping fullbacks: the Super Eagles were so quick to release wingers with long balls from the middle of the park. As Eguavoen himself noted, the only thing missing was having enough bodies in the box to profit from those crosses. With Onuachu absent, the likes of Awoniyi and Umar will have to work on their positioning and aerial prowess.
Implication: I think there will be a bit of departure from Rohr’s approach here. The German seemed to favour more inverted crosses. Eguavoen might end up erring on the side of the traditional outside-in crosses and more low cut backs.
With the right balls from midfield, Super Eagles wingers should be able to perforate many a defences in Cameroon. How to add quality and variety to those crosses/cut backs and to have enough bodies in the box to finish off the work are areas they need to nail on the head.
I can boldly predict that the agricultural brand of football that we were subjected to in the dying embers of Rohr’s reign will make way to a bit more swagger, finesse and flair from this Super Eagles.
Gernot Rohr said something that I find interesting. The German said it was a fine line to tow to balance playing sexy football and getting results.
So if Eguavoen’s ward manage to pull off playing vibrant, free flowing beautiful football, will this come at the expense of a good result?
Only time will tell. We haven’t got that long to wait.