The Super Eagles of Nigeria got their World Cup qualifiers off to a
flier as they recorded a lifting 2-1 victory over The Chipolopolo of Zambia in
the opening game of 2016 World Cup Group B qualifiers. But while the three points
are crucial, Gernot Rohr still has work to do. Here’s why… The Super Eagles
still need work, both in attack and defence. Nigeria scored two goals,
largely because the Zambians were naïve in defence. The first goal was
fortuitous because the ball fell kindly for Iwobi. Credit to him though, he
took the chance well. But there are still kinks in that attack, a less generous
team will stifle the flair players. Carl Ikeme is one of
the major reasons the Eagles have three points in that game. His many massive saves
denied the Zambians “sure goals” and kept Nigeria in the tie. Rohr has one
month before the game against Algeria, who will not be this generous. On the flip side, Wilfred
Ndidi looked suspect against a rampaging Ranford Kalaba. And Ogenyi Onazi (again) was a slight liability
as he needlessly forayed forward, exposing the defence. Maybe it’s time to bring
back John Ogu. The midfield went on
vacation several times during the game, maybe because Onazi was tactically
deficient (irresponsible?). or maybe it was because Iwobi played wide more than
tucked-in, and the Zambians simply out-numbered the Eagles in the middle. Whatever
it was that caused the holes, Rohr must find the right balance.
The Algerians are coming!
Brown Ideye is
underrated. Yes, I said it. The Olympiacos man makes anyone playing
alongside him look good. He made Emmanuel Emenike look good at the 2013 Nations
Cup, and his work rate at Ndola took attention off Iwobi and Iheanacho. When he
went off, Eagles went off the boil in attack. Finally, the Eagles
need to find a team rhythm. The game was littered with individual plays,
punctured by moments of individual magic that disguised as team cohesion.
Nigeria had more possession overall, but Zambia had more shots at goal (15-10)
more shots on target (8-5) more dangerous attacks (43-34) and more corner
kicks. The only other statistic that the Eagles had more numbers, was in fouls committed.
What all these means is that Nigeria may have won the Battle of Ndola,
but the war of World Cup qualification is yet to be won. The Algerians are