By Zazi Bariza
Nigeria’s Super Eagles beat the Chipolopolo of Zambia in
the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to claim top spot in group B after
the other group game between Algeria and Cameroon ended in a 1-1 draw.
Naijafootball247.com takes a critical look at how the
Eagles fared in the game and gives individual ratings of all the players on
parade for the Eagles.
CARL IKEME
Hardly did anything wrong in the game. Besides denying
Rainford Kalaba with point-blank saves on two occasions, Ikeme also seemed to
be in firm control of his backline.
Rating: 9.5
WILFRED NDIDI
Playing in his more natural fullback position, Wilfred
Ndidi looked solid and was never found wanting in the first half. His long
throw led to Nigeria’s opening goal. He, however, could not put up a similar
performance in the second as he was constantly run down by the Zambian captain,
Rainford Kalaba.
Rating: 4.5
ELDERSON ECHIEJILE
Did not contribute much to attacking play, perhaps as a
result of the manager’s tactical decisions, but was looked very composed in
executing his defensive duties. He was particularly impressive in curtailing
the very tricky Fwayo Tempo.
Rating: 7
KENNETH OMERUO
Though full of activity and running, he lacked
concentration at certain moments, and was poor with crucial tackles and
clearances, one of which caused the goal Nigeria conceded. Must be more
calculated and decisive.
Rating: 3.5
WILLIAM TROOST-EKONG
Arguably his best performance for the Super Eagles. He
proved to be the leader in the Eagles backline. The way he anticipated the
Zambians’ attack was commendable; and in addition, he never went wrong in
aeriel contests.
Rating: 9
OGENYI ONAZI
Put up his usual exuberant display in the middle of the
park and did fairly well in protecting the backline. One quality he should add
to his game, though, is taking initiatives whenever he finds space in midfield.
Rating: 5.5
MIKEL JOHN OBI
The Super Eagles skipper played in a deeper role than we
have seen him play in recent games in national colours. Held on to the ball
very well to dictate pace, but carelessly lost possession on a few occassions.
Combined well with the front men the few times he surged forward and should
have been on the scoresheet but for a brilliant tip-over by the Zambian
goalkeeper Kennedy Nweene.
Rating: 6.5
MOSES SIMON
Uncharacteristically abysmal on the day. His crosses were
poor and he seemed to lack the pace and power he is known for. His withdrawal
in the 83rd minute should have come a lot earlier.
Rating: 4.5
KELECHI IHEANACHO
The manner in which he kept a cool head to slot in the
second goal, in the face of pressure from on-rushing Zambian defenders speaks
volume of his composure.
Rating: 8
ALEX IWOBI
Struggled at the beginning to cope with the physicality
of the Zambians, but drifted to a more a central role, from where he was a
beauty to behold. Showed great tactical and technical awareness, and was also a
great team player. His goal on the day was a good reward for a great
performance.
Rating: 9
BROWN IDEYE
The Olympiacos striker did not get into many scoring
positions but his understanding with Iheanaco and Iwobi was commendable.
Provided the assist for Nigeria’s second goal and was substituted in the 73rd
minute when the Eagles where under heavy pressure from the Zambians.
Rating: 5.5
SUBSTITUTE PLAYERS
ANDERSON ESITI
His introduction in the 73rd minute was intended at
number to Nigeria’s struggling midfield and the Gent midfielder duly did.
Although he did not have too many touches of the ball, his big presence in
midfield caused a cloud for Zambia and returned stability to the Eagles.
Rating: 5
AHMED MUSA
The Eagles vice captain saw just seven minutes of action,
but managed a strike that pulled a save out of the Zambian goalkeeper, Kennedy
Nwinee.
Rating: 5
SHEHU ABDULLAHI
He came on for Ogenyi Onazi in added time, so did not
have enough game minutes to be rated.

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