While most Nigerians are not particularly pleased by the Super Eagles performances in their double-header friendlies, it has been a good opportunity to test the players. A defeat against Algeria and a draw against Tunisia were not really pleasing. For some players they showed they are not good enough for the Super Eagles, at least not yet. We start with those that passed their test – the good.
Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye got eyebrows raised when he got an invitation when he was not even first choice at Fortuna Dusseldorf reserves. He has since left to join Sparta Rotterdam in Holland but has still not played regularly. Prior to these friendlies, he had only a substitute appearance against Brazil to show. However, after keeping goal in the two friendlies, he showed composure and pulled some impressive saves to seal a spot in the team.
Zaidu Sanusi showed some flashes at left-back, particularly keeping Riyadh Mahrez quiet against Algeria. His decision making and general play could however be better, but he showed enough to deserve a place in the team.
It was also redemption for Leon Balogun after a poor Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. He was commanding in the two matches and was the best Super Eagles center-back in the friendlies.
Despite showing his good and bad side, Kelechi Iheanacho showed he still has a role to play in the team. He got the only goal the team scored over two matches and was particularly bright in the first half against Tunisia.
A lot was expected from Frank Onyeka after some briliant performances with his Danish Club – Midtylland. He was to be the main midfielder in the absence of Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Joe Aribo but after just 45 minutes in the first match, he was removed like SARS. It will be difficult for him to get back anytime soon.
Mikel Agu replaced Onyeka at halftime against Algeria but he proved to be SWAT – no difference. Questions were already asked about his invitation as he has never impressed in the Super Eagles in the past. He was so bad he was not used in the second match.
It is high time we try Paul Onuachu in the D’Tigers (Nigeria’s male national basketball team) if he must be invited to any national team. He showed again that his 6ft 7 frame is a waste in the Super Eagles. He huffed and puffed in the first match against Algeria until he was hauled off in the second half. He does not look like his style is suited to the team.
There are some still hanging in there. The jury is still out of them, especially those that did not get any or enough playing time. Kevin Akpoguma should get another look-in based on his reputation but based on what we saw in the two friendlies, he was not convincing enough. Cyriel Dessers and Ejuke Chidera were not tested enough but showed little flashes in their cameo appearances and deserve another test. Goalkeepers Matthew Yakubu and Dele Alampasu were also not tested enough.
By the time the team regroup again for AFCON qualifiers in November, some of the players are not expected back while some of the regulars that missed these friendlies will also return. Hopefully, the results and performances get better.