The Super Eagles double-header friendlies did not particularly get to a good start, with defeat against Algeria on Friday. It was not just about the defeat, but the performance of the Eagles was not encouraging. The brilliant displays we saw in friendlies against Ukraine and Brazil and in the AFCON qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho was not replicated against the Algerians. Cutting Rohr some slack, it was the team’s first match of the year and some key players were missing. However, the same excuses might not suffice if the team performs woefully again against Tunisia. Here are some of the things we hope to see.
Nigeria vs Tunisia: What we hope to see.
This is one thing Rohr has never been good at, making use of his squad as much as possible. There were players Rohr invited in the past and barely played, he should not do that here. Especially the likes of Cyril Dessers, Chidera Ejuke, Kevin Akpoguma and Matthew Yakubu, they should be allowed enough playing time for assessment. There might be little or no chance to experiment going forward, considering what is going to be a choked calendar for club and international football.
The same goes for some of the guys that did not play against Algeria, especially the returning ones like Dele Alampasu.
Better Attacking Play
Better attacking play might mean one thing – leaving Paul Onuachu out. As stated in our review of the last match, Onuachu is a target man, he does not suit how the team plays. The team needs a center forward that can interchange quick passes with the wing-forwards and attacking midfield, not one expecting to be fed.
With the options at his disposal, Rohr should consider starting Kelechi Iheanacho or Ahmed Musa, if he does not trust Dessers enough for a start. It is however important that we see Dessers play, apart from hearing about his goals scoring exploits in the Eredivisie, little is known of him and how he plays, he should be given a chance to show it.
Different midfield mix
Semi Ajayi and Frank Onyeka at the base of the midfield did not work, neither did it fair better when Mikel Agu replaced Onyeka. Ajayi grew into the game in the second half but did not really convince he is suited for a midfield role. Whoever Rohr decides to play, maybe he should consider playing the young Samson Tijani. A cameo appearance in the last match was not enough to assess him. As we saw at U-17 level, he is a midfielder that can dictate the pace of the game, which the Eagles lacked in the first match. He is still young but it is a friendly and he is in the team, if he can’t be tried in a friendly then he should not be in the team.
We have seen Okoye, another goalkeeper please
We have seen Maduka Okoye and based on what we saw in the last match, he is good enough to be in the team. Now let us assess the other two goalkeepers available. Alampasu has had just one substitute appearance for the Super Eagles as far back as 2017. The 2013 U-17 World Cup Golden Glove winner should be given a chance to start. He has barely gotten the chance to show what he can do in the Super Eagles, this is the time.
If possible, Matthew Yakubu should also be given a run out. With maybe one or two of Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa expected to return, it won’t be bad to have a large pool of tested and trusted goalkeepers.
After all said, a good result and performance is expected against Tunisia. it will help the team build some confidence ahead of their next competitive match in November.