Following Super Eagles impressive showing in Tuesday’s friendly win against Argentina, Completesportsnigeria. com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU highlights seven major talking points from the game.
1. OYINBO WALL NOW CRACKING
One of the major talking points of Nigeria’s successful World Cup qualifying campaign is the formidable partnership between Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong. The understanding between the central defenders was telepathic and they looked impregnable.
The two were badly exposed by the pacy Zambian forwards in their penultimate qualifying fixture in Uyo and struggled against Algeria last Friday in Constantine.
Against world class trio, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Mario, they were thoroughly exposed again. Balogun in particular was awful in the game especially in the first half and it was not a surprise he was hauled off later in the encounter for Kenneth Omeruo who did well after his introduction.
Troost-Ekong recovered after the break to help ward off the threats of the Argentines but the big question now in the mind of the fans is can the once reliable duo still hold their own in the team.
2. UZOHO MAKES BOLD CLAIM FOR STARTING BERTH
Ahead of the game, young Deportivo La Coruna of Spain goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, was rumoured to be the in the frame to make his first start for the three-time African champions but he had to make do with a place on the bench.
He however got his chance after the break and the former Golden Eaglets goal tender showed great composure beyond his age.
With Ezenwa’s shaky performance against Algeria and Akpeyi’s poor display in the first half against Argentina, then Uzoho might be in for more regular playing time ahead of the world cup.
3. FRINGE PLAYERS SHOW CLASS
Aside from the manner of the win and the performance of the players especially in the second half, head coach of the side, Gernot Rohr must be pleased with the contributions of some of his fringe players in the game.
Brian Idowu came in at half time and scored the decisive third goal. Tyrone Ebuehi who had been waiting for a chance to show his quality was outstanding, while Chidozie Awaziem also did well.
Should they maintain this impressive form in subsequent games, then Rohr will be in for a big selection headache ahead of the World Cup finals.
4. EAGLES THRIVE IN A NEW FORMATION
The last time the Super Eagles played a 3-5-2 formation was under Frenchman Philippe Trousier during the qualifiers for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The team failed to adapt then and the formation was abandoned.
Against Argentina, the players were lackadaisical in the first half as they struggled to hit top form. They however improved after the break and look well acquainted with the new formation.
5. SUPER EAGLES’ IMPRESSIVE ATTACKING DEPTH
One of the hallmarks of great and successful football teams is the options available to coaches in different departments of the team. Against Argentina, the Super Eagles were without key forwards, Victor Moses, Moses Simon and Odion Ighalo and yet they scored four superb goals against a side that parades some of the best players in the world.
Should the forwards hit top form at the world cup, they will be a tough nut to crack for many opposing defenders.
6. THE DEFENDERS NEED TO STEP UP
Despite their second half recovery, the defenders need to step up their game as they were badly exposed by the Argentines in the first half. Had the Albiceleste converted some of the chances they created in the first half, then the road to redemption may have been more difficult.
More so, they could be punished by a team with a better attacking prowess.
7. MIKEL OBI IS A TRUE LEADER
The captain of the team was rested in last Friday’s qualifying fixture against Algeria and his presence, especially in the middle of the pack, was badly felt. Mikel showed his importance to the team with a commanding performance against Argentina. He is surely the undisputable leader of this team.