Nigeria vs Zambia: Early Warning System…

Zambia Team Picture   ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Nigeria will travel to Zambia to play a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier exactly a month from today. The Chipolopolo, as the Zambian national team are called, played out a 1-1 draw with Kenya in the last round of the 2016 AFCON qualifiers in Ndola on Sunday, and watched the game to get an inside look at the Zambians. Here is the scouting report:

The Super Eagles, shorn of a natural creative midfielder, must incorporate wing play to subdue Zambia. This because the only time Kenya got behind the Zambian defence was when they attacked from the flanks. The inability to find a genuine creative spark for the Eagles has led to numerous frustrations.
Mr Rohr, please bring back wing play! 

Chipolopolo’s central defensive stalwart, Stoppila Sunzu is another reason we need to diversify our attack. The Lille of France player is still “boss”, and was in control of his back line. Note, Nigeria has scored just 39 goals in 30 Grade A internationals since January 2013 (including the Nations Cup win, Confederation Cup and World Cup). However, 14 of the 39 goals were against Tahiti, Ethiopia and Sudan.
We must make every attack against Zambia count. No more wasted chances.

Although one of the heroes of the Zambia 2012 Nations Cup win, Rainford Kalaba is bogged down by captain duties, he still has awesome dead ball skills. His corner kicks and free kicks troubled the Kenyan defence and Boniface Oluoch in goal for the Harambee Stars. He also scored the only Zambian goal.
The Super Eagles must be careful to avoid conceding free kicks in dangerous areas, and must be watchful when defending set pieces. 

The Zambian coach, George Lwandamina used his substitutes well. The Zambians conceded a goal against the run of play midway into the second half, and looked like they were going to lose the game. Lwandamina brought on youngster Paul Kotema, Rodrick Kabwe and Felix Katongo. Rodrick and Katongo created the goal for Kalaba.
Super Eagles note: It will not be over until the final whistle.

Victor Wanyama, who has grown from being strictly a defensive midfielder, bossed the midfield for Kenya. His passes were crisp, and he marshalled his troops well. Mikel can do the same for the Eagles, as long as his role is well defined.
The Eagles’ forward line looked out of sorts against Tanzania, a clear definition of roles will help clear the confusion and deliver goals.

Nigeria will need a minimum of four points from the first two games of the World Cup qualifiers. The second game against Algeria holds no guarantees, but the game against Zambia is one the Super Eagles can win. And they should.

Also read: The Early Rohr Report…

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