NO MARGIN FOR ERROR: How Super Eagles Should Line Up Vs Iceland

NO MARGIN FOR ERROR: How Super Eagles Should Line Up Vs Iceland

The Super Eagles are hours away from their second group game against Iceland at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD picks who best fits in a potential 3-4-3 formation for the crucial game in Volvograd on Friday…



Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna)

Since his debut for Nigeria in their 4-2 international friendly win over Argentina last November, the 19 year old has continued to grow in confidence and composure in goal for Nigeria. Though he has kept only one clean sheet in six starts (seven appearances in all) for Nigeria, Uzoho remains the best goalkeeper judging from his performance thus far. Uzoho is poised to be in goal for Nigeria when they take on Iceland as he was barely threatened during the defeat to Croatia.

Zenith Ziva

Right wing-back

Tyronne Ebuehi (Benfica)

Shehu Abdulahi was one of the weakest links in the Super Eagles defence against Croatia. The Bursaspor defender was badly exposed by Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic each time he came up against him in one vs one situations during the encounter. His crosses were poor and he did not offer anything supporting the attack while he was average in his defensive duties. A youthful Tyronne Ebuehi must be deployed as a wing-back to add freshness and pace into the team.

Ebuehi possesses outstanding overlapping skills combined with his ability to get quality crosses into the box. Those qualities made him one of the most sought after full-backs and Benfica handed him a five-year deal at the expiration of his contract with ADO Den Haag where he scored once in 82 appearances. Ebuehi was nominated by VoetbalPrimeur as one of the 10 best right-backs in the just concluded season in the Netherlands.

Left wing-back

Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm)

Bryan Idowu had a quiet debut World Cup appearance for Nigeria playing as a left-back. The Amkar Perm defender fared well playing as a wing-back in the friendlies where he could surge forward and help the attack. His pace up and down the left flank makes him a better option to Elderson Echiejile but he must improve on his crosses when he gets to the byline. The Amkar Perm defender has started in all six games for Nigeria since he made his debut against Argentina last November coming in for Ola Aina.


Leon Balogun (Brighton), William Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor) and John Ogu (Hapoel Beer-Sheva)

Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong have formed a good partnership playing together in the heart of the Super Eagles defence but have failed to deal with set-pieces in their last four games. The pair have been solid by their standards during the World Cup qualifiers but have faltered during pre-tournament games and on the biggest stage in Russia. Switching to a three man defence with John Ogu deployed at the left-side of the defence will give the team more freedom to build the attack from the back. Also Ogu’s inclusion could also help neutralize Iceland’s height advantage during aerial challenges.

Central Midfielders

Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City) and John Mikel Obi (Tianjin TEDA)

After churning out that outstanding performance for the Super Eagles on his World Cup debut, Oghenekaro Etebo must be the first name on the team sheet against Iceland. The 22-year-old was the most efficient Super Eagles player in terms of his positional play, ball handling and take-ons in the defeat. Despite his own-goal, Etebo has outdone Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in the dribbling stakes so far in Russia.

The Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi was one of the poor players Gernot Rohr paraded in the defeat against Croatia. Mikel has lost lots of pace and like everybody has reiterated his best position is playing deep in front of the defence line. But his calmness on the ball and long thrust defence splitting passes are key assets. With his experience, playing behind Etebo will offer the Super Eagles more possession of the ball in midfield and also give room for the Stoke City player to join the attack when the team can break.

Attacking Midfielders

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) and Victor Moses (Chelsea)

Alex Iwobi was anonymous in Nigeria’s 2-0 loss to Croatia while deployed as a winger. But he remains one of the most creative players in the Super Eagles team. If handed the No.10 role against Iceland, the 22’year-old has the quality to unlock defences with his crisp and short passes.

Victor Moses was Nigeria’s only threat going forward in their defeat against Croatia. He will be a good foil for Odion Ighalo who needs good support from the midfield. Moses’ pace, experience and desire to make a mark at the biggest stage will offer the Super Eagles another dimension in attack.


Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai)

Odion Ighalo has admitted that it is difficult playing as a lone striker. This has been obvious in the team’s last five games he has played because he has been isolated in attack. During his prolific years with Watford in the English Championship and in the English Premier League, Ighalo had a player in Troy Deeney who acted as a foil for him upfront. Playing alongside Victor Moses who is equally pacy and skillful will give Ighalo more room to link up well and create chances to score. Ighalo has not scored in his last seven games for Nigeria.

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  • Naija Man 3 years ago

    I will be very happy to come here and aplogize if the Super Eagles win their match against Iceland on Friday. So far, I don’t see this current Eagles as a winning team. Just take a look at the record of our coach. He was sacked from Nantes FC, replaced in Gabon, fired by Niger Republic and then hired by Nigeria. We can see how he has led the Eagles so far. Forget the qualification story. He also lost to South Africa at home in Uyo. Remember that match when the South Africans badly outplayed the Super Eagles in Uyo and defeated them 2-0?

    • JOHNNYCRANE 3 years ago


    • Dr. Drey 3 years ago

      Pls kindly show me a coach who has never been fired before…? Is the iceland coach a Real madid coach, or is the Croatian coach a Juventus coach…?

      • Dr Dumb, the guy never said no coach has never been sacked before.
        Not long ago you were criticising the same coach, fool.
        Although you are twisted with all that weed in your brain Dr Drey, don’t twist the guy’s argument.

        • Edoman of New Jersey, USA 3 years ago

          @Ashy, l think you are rude and insensitive to how your words come across on the board. Do you think before you write or you write before you think ? Well, do not throw insults at any one or you will be insulted. My advise.

    • First,the coach is terrible.Two,All the Nigerian players are skinny,malnourished,spineless.Soccer is a physical game.These boys are not natural footballers.They are playing football because of unemployment.Next time we need people like Uche Okuchukwu,Amokache,Olise,etc.Thease Skinny hungry people were selected on the basis of connection.Recruit on merit and objective criteria.Even if these boys take part in a female World Cup competition they would not win.Look at the Senegalese players.Are there no well fed boys in Nigeria to select from.Mikel is a long time Chelsea’s reject.He plays in China.He can never score yet he wore no.10.Am sure he selected himself.The coach is a mumu.Dont select players bc they play in Europe.It is hunger that took them there. Not merit.

  • @ ADMIN….Why ighalo again? super eagle with the finest jersey @ d world cup and the third poorest performed [email protected] d same event will still start ighalo without a single shot either off or on target? did`nt he receive any pass at all?what about his love for offside? how can a striker love staying behind defenders or did he expect d ball to pass between the defenders leg(error)? Sir,can u show me any player that travels to Asia without losing his place or form?(being bench for while in Europe is better than playing in Asia)we keep predictin what the coach might use forgetin the actual fact. We had d best jersey, kit and outfit @ the mundial, the question is that”do we have d best or average players to fit in to each wing?so dat we wont be a shadow of our appearance. Let the coach display his professionalism by correcting his error, what we need is result or nothing more(his late substitutions sucks)

  • Playing ighalo again and Mikel?

    Just know Nigeria is loosing with those two . Who at best should come in as subs.

    Kelechi and Simy to start with John Ogu in.

    Iceland only score thru set pieces

  • __Fans’ Zone ahead of Nig v Icl__

    Gauging the mood of fans has been quite interesting ahead of the SE’s crucial encounter against Iceland on 22 June.

    Never have there been more polarity of views across a range of matters since the loss to Croatia.

    Below are some of the vibes I am getting thus far.

    Uzoho is our man: if any fan tries to, as much as, criticise the performance of Uzoho, he would almost have his head chopped off. Such is the loyalty and conviction shared by his fans that Uzoho should retain his place as Nigeria’s undisputed number one.

    Whilst I retain my reservation, I commend Uzoho for his ever-improving performances. He has a bright future.

    Ighalo (wonder, wonder): Femi Kuti sang:”many things dey happen (in football), wey go surprise you, confuse you, depress you, turn you wonderer, you go begin to wonder…”

    Many fans are “wondering” how many more matches does Rohr needs to see that Ighalo is not Diego Costa!!!

    Early exit a forgone conclusion: A number of fans have since written off the chances of the Super Eagles claiming to have seen the writing of failure on the wall. They point to what they see as an inept coach, collection of average players and a losing mentality.

    The optimism in other corners is unwavering and these optimists believe that Rohr and his boys will deliver; bringing the doubters to shame.

    Some have simply amd passively shifted their attention to 2019 Afcon qualifiers and even the next world cup.

    Formation and Team Selection: Never have I seen so many experts in formation and team selection.


    It is so funny, not a day goes by without a fan suggesting: 442, 352, 541, 424, 222 ( even I suggested a formation); Simmy for Ighalo, Akpeyi for Uzoho (maybe that was me!!! Lol), this for that, that for this…

    So long as we remind ourselves that these are lighthearted excercises not to be taken too seriously, then we can all have fun and not quarrel needlessly.

    Wishing the Super Eagles best of luck in tomorrow’s do-or-drop encounters. With African teams dropping like flies in this tournament, the continental significance of tomorrow’s match for Africa cannot be overstated.

  • I’m now thinking that playing Mikel as 10 would actually help us win this game. 2 reasons:
    1 – He’ll play his heart out to prove everybody wrong. So he’ll do a good job.
    2 – Iceland’s coach would be expecting Mikel to revert to his DM role, so it would disrupt his game plan to see Mikel forward.

    I remember the best tactical games I’ve seen SE play were 2nd half Nig vs Arg 2014 and Nig vs SA under Keshi. Ahmed Musa had a free role and while SA was busy marking iut Emenike Musa roamed freely and within the first 15mins he had about 2 to 3 1-2-1 chances but he missed them before SA understood our game.

  • Innocent 3 years ago

    Let us leave rohr alone,after all it took westerhoff 5years to build d national team.i belive rohr is bulding a team for d future.i never expected d team to perform in dis year world cup.bcos d time was short wen he was employed by nff.d problems with we nigerians is we ar nt patient.d world cup is every 4years.but our coach was employed 1 years ago.we need to employ a coach 3years befor any major event start,so as to have a team on d ground before even qualifiers.

  • K Baba 3 years ago

    Seriously? Ighalo again. Nah. I dont know if you all have noticed that pace, youth, experience,innovation and team effort = Success at this world cup. Also, a ton of quality is needed. Mikel’s experience is needed in the next game, along side the pace of players like moses, iheanacho and musa. In terms of team play. Ndidi is definitely needed as he plays for the team and sacrifices a lot for the attackin g players just like Oliseh used to do for the likes of Okocha, finidi, and Lawal. Also, i believe Kelechi is more innovative than Ighalo and being tried and tested in EPL should give him an edge as he can cope with the big and aggressive Iceland players with his skill and movements and passes. What he does too is he can assist one of the other forwards which is a useful tool.In terms of innovation, we definitely need etebo and iwobi. Iwobi seems to disappoint a lot in as much as he also provides exceptional moments for the team. Since etebo proved to be the best dribbler in the world cup and seems to get past players easily, I will choose him ahead of Iwobi who can come in and cause more problems when Iceland will be a lil tired in the 2nd half.

    God bless Naija.

    Hopefully we wont be the next African team to be knocked out as I’m tired of hearing all this terrible and racist commentators shit on our faces.

  • Ayphillydegreat 3 years ago

    Ighalo ke! Lord have mercy. Kelechi must start this game. I’ll prefer Omeruo or Awaziem in a back three. Let’s see how they respond in a very tight situation. I still believe in my SuperEagles win or lose #FLY LIKE AN EAGLE INTO THE FUTURE#

  • tequiero 3 years ago

    hello football lovers
    j just did hope all watched d last match… the super eagles played a well balanced game. only that they where not able to create a clear cut chance. i will rather agree that u put d blames on our wingers in persons of moses, iwobi, and musa who were not able to cause damage to the croatians. while put d blame on mikel or ekong or anyother person.
    if u are conversant with the cultural playing pattern of d super eagles, den u will agree with me that our major threat lies on the wingers.
    have u ever even sit down and think why d nigerian football team is referred to as super eagles? clip d wings of an eagle,den d eagle is useless. do u remember d early 1990s and how our darling super eagles could torment any opponent with fast, tricky, and direct wingers. football is not jiust a game, but traditions. d eagle’s beacon will b effective if only d wings can hold down d prey.
    u will agree with me dat ighalo’s was domant bcos there was no supply. and its not mikel responsibility to suppy passes to ighalo, d responsibility lies on d wingers. das d nigeria football culture. let mikel pass d ball to d wingers and let d wingers b more direct at goal or lay a square play to d eagles’ beacon which is our ighalo. do u remember yekini who was always scoring because d likes of amuneke and finidi did there jobs well.

    moses was just no threat even though d ball was always with him, same as iwobi… let our wingers b more deadly and we will see chances to score.

    les hope our wingers are more distinct against iceland. 70% of our goals in d qualifiers had their source from d wing.

    d 4mation was ok but d wingers were not upto d task…

    i hope dey get it ryt dis tym around..

  • Ndubest 3 years ago

    Lessons from Senegal coach, he dropped the untouchables before now in the team that played Poland for fitter and faster players. During the qualifiers players like keita balde, konate, mboji, captain of the team kouyate of west harm were super regulars but they were all benched against Poland and those that started justified their inclusion. Our coach should go for fitter players than playing names as this is his last chance to prove himself or get sacked. I suggest ihenacho starts and moses should not play or our set piece. I see us winning 2-0. See you all friends after we have dismantle defensive minded Iceland tomorrow.

  • Just to chip in something, I hope you guys saw Uzoho’s pix at age 14 five years ago? That guy really grew in leaps and bounds. Sorry Mr Uzoho, for initially doubting your age 19.You don chop Oyinbo burger tire.

    Moses LWB
    3-5-2 or 3-4-3
    2 attack minded wing backs
    3 fluid midfielders
    3 attackers.

    Signify our interest to attack, and attack from the first whistle.
    Score 2 or 3 goals before they settle down.

  • Football is either one losses or win; so my advice to super eagle is:
    1. Play with the colour of green white green in you mind.
    2. Play your best and put more effort
    3. Remember the 1994 World cup, remember Amokachi the rest of that team, then write your story.
    4. Make Nigerians proud.

  • emmanuel mbawuan 3 years ago

    its all because they lose their first game,now pple see rohr a bad coach,Nigerians