Players Who Need To Shape Up or Be Shipped Out
Whilst one is appreciative of the efforts of all the Super Eagles players, some of them have to really stand up and be counted.
With Nigeria's first game in the Afcon less than 3 months time, I don't think we can afford to take any passengers along to the tournament. All selected players have to be on top of their game.
For me, the following 5 players have to bring their A game to the fore in games leading up to the Afcon.
1) Tyrone Ebuehi: he has lost the gloss and shine that once defined his first touch, ball control, pace and delivery. He still gets in promising areas only to pull the rug of expectations from under the feet of fans with subpar outputs. The flame of affection fans used to have for him is dying. Ebuehi needs to improve.
2) Ademola Lookman: he seems confused in Super Eagles colours. Watching him play seems almost like looking at someone who is wearing an oversized suit as the winger responsibility seems to heavy for him to shoulder. Lookman barely executes delicious pullouts; his incursions into dangerous areas lack conviction; he comes across like a lightweight winger ; and his take-ons aren't always successful; and he lacks a commanding presence on the wings. Lookman needs to overhaul his game.
3) Francis Uzoho: now that opponents know his achilles heel when it comes to weaknesses in dealing with long range bullets, opponents will seek to exploit this in coming games. Against Ghana, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, failure in this one aspect stuck out like a sore thumb. Either the goalkeeper trainers help him speedily to resolve this and other minor issue or they look for a replacement skilled enough to deal with this long balls as part of an overall package of quality goalkeeping skills.
4) Samuel Chukwueze: I think he just needs to calm down. For such an experienced winger, Chukwueze still plays with so much exuberance. If you look closely, Chukwueze works very hard to cover a lot of grounds. He darts into wonderful positions only to produce some truly awful and nauseating crosses or shots. If he rediscovers his composure, anything is possible.
5) Sadiq Umar: yes he recently returned from long term injury but he needs to pick up the pace quickly or he might miss out on an Afcon place. With his height and propensities to blindside defenders, Umar might yet be an asset to the Super Eagles. But he's still rusty and his timing, positioning and footwork are still way off. Umar must recapture his killer instinct soon.