By Samuel
Omaenikun
For
a team with some of the best players around the world and Europe to be more
specific the performance of the Nigerian male national team has been nothing
short of disappointing and nowhere near what is expected by the fans.
In
recent years the Super Eagles as they’re called have lost their fear factor and
ruthlessness in front of goal, coaches have also failed to get the best out of
the players.
When
Stephen Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 we had a promising squad
and Nigerians could dream again but three years down the line the country has
failed to get the best out of their players and have subsequently failed to
qualify for two AFCONS back to back.

Criticisms have come the way of the players and coaches have been fired all in
a bit to turn things around but questions were also asked of players like Odion
Ighalo and Ahmad Musa.
These
two were tested scorers for their clubs in the last two seasons but have failed
to transfer that form to the Eagles.
The
Super Eagles midfield most times seemed flat in spite of Mikel Obi and Ogenyi
Onazi featuring regularly in it.
The
defense was guilty of too many mistakes as the only area which looked solid was
the goal keeping department.
So
what exactly could be the problem causing lethargic performances at the Super
Eagles?
The Problem
Nigerians
believe they have a team which is capable of being world beaters and this could
be true.
However,
our coaches at national team level have failed to play to the strength of the
players.
Odion
Ighalo has been deployed in numerous positions for the Super Eagles, way
different from what he is used to playing at Watford.
At
Watford, Ighalo has the constant support from his strike partner Troy Denney
they both run around each other and create chances for one another.
But
when he comes to the Eagles he is most times left isolated upfront and left to
feed off scraps from long ball thrown forward not yielding much results.
Ighalo
is not the first to fall victim to such cruel tactics as Emmanuel Emenike also
suffered similar fate after the AFCON win in 2013.

At the AFCON, Emenike was constantly played alongside Brown Ideye who is a very
mobile striker and who provided distractions and created space and assist for
Emenike.
After
the AFCON leading to the World Cup, Ideye was dropped and Emenike found himself
isolated all through the tournament in Brazil as chances created for him were
few and far between.
Emmanuel
Emenike would go two years without a goal for the Eagles and ended up retiring
from International football.

This takes us to the midfield where the Eagles have failed to deliver most
times.
We
have watched the midfield be uninspiring, flat footed and failing to be the
bridge between attack and defense.
Mikel
who plays as a holding midfielder for Chelsea has seen himself play more
advanced roles for the Eagles sometimes doing well and other times failing.
Ogenyi
Onazi thrives as a central midfielder for club but for country he is given a
deeper role playing as a deep laying midfielder which sometimes he cuts a
frustrated figure playing.
The
defence has seen several players being deployed leaving a lack of understanding
and consistency.
Proffering a Solution
Judging
by the game against Tanzania, the new man in charge, Gernot ROHR has shown he
is a coach that likes his players expressing themselves.
We
saw the Eagles play a high pressing game with lots of energy and for the first
time in years we saw a team that had a glimpse of the Eagles past.
If
not for poor finishing from the likes of Victor Moses the game would have ended
more than the 1 nil score line.
Kelechi
Iheanacho scored the winner in the Tanzania game and keeps getting goals for
City while Alex Iwobi is in fine form so the coach should play to the strength
of his players.
Odion
ighalo shouldn’t be left isolated as Iheanacho could be played behind him in a
supporting striker role.
Brown
ideye should also be given the chance to lead the attack or play around Ighalo.
The wingers
Victor
Moses and Ahmed Musa have both been given the responsibility of breaking out
through the wing and crossing for the center men but most time they fail to
cross and decide to cut in to finish themselves which is not a bad thing if you
have space ahead.
In
the last game against Tanzania both men failed to deliver an accurate cross and
were guilty of making a lot of wayward attempts at goal.
They
have pace and are skillful so the best option would be for them to stick to the
wings and play with the left back or right back behind them.
Both
men should think less about cutting in and getting the goals for themselves and
think more as suppliers for the strikers in the box.
The midfield
John
Mikel Obi has the skill set to play in an advanced role but seems a little
uncomfortable doing so at times.
The
best will be to play him as a deep lying midfielder where he’ll hold the ball, shield
the defence and use his passing range to pick out attackers.
With
runners like Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and a striker like Ideye, Nigeria should
thrive from this kind of play maker.
Onazi
should be by his side doing the tackling etc. Since Onazi isn’t much of a ball
player he’s more comfortable running and tackling and taking shots.
A steady defence
Enough
of the trials as it’s time to stick to a back line, and give them time to build
an understanding.
Leon
Balogun and Williams Troost-Ekong have the qualities to be outstanding center
backs and should be allowed to grow and make mistakes together.
Troost-Ekong
is brave and not scared of tackles while Balogun is calm and keeps things tidy
at the back.
Elderson
Echejile and Musa Muhammad should be allowed to be on the flanks in defence.
In
the goalkeeping position, Vincent Enyeama wants to remain retired so I think we
should let him be while Carl Ikeme be allowed to tend the goal and Daniel
Akpeyi be the second choice.
A
formation in this mode might do
               Ighalo  

              Iheanacho
Moses                       Musa
           Onazi
                  Mikel
Echiejile  Balogun 
Troost-Ekong   Musa M.
              Karl Ikeme
   
4-2-2-1-1
Looking
at the above formation it gives lots of cover to the defence and still width to
the attack, Mikel would be better suited to control games and it also solves
the striker isolation problem bringing goals to the team and as we know goals
win games.
With
barely two weeks to the start of the World Cup Qualifying matches, Gernot ROHR
will need to get his acts together quickly.

For
now, we wait and look to see what the future holds.

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