NIG 0-1 ALG: 6 questions from Super Eagles loss to Algeria
By Kayode Ogundare @Kaybaba99
Last night, the Super Eagles lost a second successive game to Algeria.
Some would have us accept that it was a friendly game so we shouldn’t attach too much importance to it.
I agree with them. We are not going to attach any importance to the loss
But, surely, we are allowed to talk about it, ain’t we?
Good. So here are six questions I’ve got for the coach, the players, the Federation and, of course, for we the fans…
1. What formation did we play?
I was on a zoom session with D-Pathwaysports Ptw Doherty and a couple of fantastic other guys during the game.
One of the questions that kept bouncing in my head as we watched the game was: what’s the game plan? What is the formation? What’s the strategy to get past these Algerians?
Forget that it was a friendly. You sha must have a plan, even if it was a normal Sunday morning kick-about? Afterall, even in madness, there is a method.
2. How do we solve the Paul Onuachu ‘problem’?
I’ve seen many angry reactions to the performance of striker Paul Onuachu and, while I think some of those criticism are justified, I also think some are misdirected.
Going into that game, Onuachu was our most prolific scorer in Europe this season with seven goals from eight games so it made sense to start him ahead of the other goal poachers.
However, Onuachu is a classic centre-forward who thrives on service through the middle of the park or from the wings. This happens in his club, KRC Genk hence his productivity.
But, in a Super Eagles team which had long abandoned wing-play and is acutely lacking a ball-holding creative playmaker who can squeeze a carmel through the eyes of a needle with one pass,
Onuachu becomes impotent and is reduced to clashing with defenders as he chases lost balls all over.
I will hesitate to crucify Onuachu. I will rather ask the manager to fashion tactics that play to his strength so we can maximize his effectiveness.
3. Does experience matter or we should continue to prioritize potential?
As the game wore on last night, my brother Tunde Jasino agonised thusly: “We’re ordinary honestly…No class, just a bunch of young lads still trying to find their feet in their careers…”
If you looked beyond Tunde’s bad belle 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂,
Do you think he has a point about the naivety of some of our players owing to their lack of international experience?
For long, we have prided ourselves on having one of the youngest teams in the world
With many players rushing out of the production line from participating in age-grade competitions especially in the last decade
But will they achieve the potential their talent promised before they fade away or we should stick to the older players for as long as we can?
At 24, some are already considering Kelechi Iheanacho as an “has-been”, ready to drag him to the dog-house.
It is probably only in Nigeria that players fade off or retire from international football before the age of 25 because they cannot make the step up to the next level.
4. Are we really sure that was a friendly game?
The Algerians, like their fellow North African brothers, showed that there was nothing ‘friendly’ about last night’s game.
For them, it was a match they had to win regardless of the status
And win, draw, or lose, they came for war!
You saw how they contested every ball, chased down every threat and shut down every opening that Nigeria could do damage from.
They pressed Nigeria, forced us to lose possession as soon as we got the ball and were always first to get at the second balls.
Truth be told, even if the match had ended goalless and points were to be awarded for effort, you knew who the runaway winners would have been.
5. Where was Chidera Ejuke?
One of the most exciting prospect to come out of Nigeria in years, this young boy will give you orgasm on his day.
A blend of Dimeji Lawal (Canada ’87), Jide Oguntuase (Scotland ’89) and Tijani Babangida (Cairo ’91), Ejuke combines speedy runs with outrageous dribbling skills.
I’d thought he was going to be on the left flanks with Sam Chukwueze on the right.
This would have heaped too much pressure on the Algerians and kept their defenders on the back foot all night.
But, you know, Gernot Rohr is the man being paid to think tactics and game-winning formations for the Super Eagles so he knows best.
Probably keeping the boy for the next game.
6. Will this be Gernot Rohr’s make-or-mar chance?
I think one of my worst-kept secret here is that I’m a raving Rohr fanatic. I don’t hide the fact that I love the man.
I was privileged to be one of the very first to interview him on assumption of duties as Super Eagles manager way back in August 2016
And I remember him outlining his future plans for the team so impressively.
The major outline of that plan was that his eyes are on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
So any little achievement on the way will only be a means to an end which is to guide the team to a respectable showing in Qatar.
Though he didnt say so but I inferred that “respectable showing” would mean surpassing the current African record of a quarter-final appearance, no?
Well, Herr Rohr, this is the future you talked about over four years ago. Are we ready for it?