Five Things Noted In Seychelles Versus Nigeria's 2019 AFCON Qualifier
The Super Eagles defeated hosts Seychelles 3-0 in their match day 2 game of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Stade Linite on Saturday.
Izuchukwu Okosi presents five talking points from that game.
1. Synthetic Threat
The venue of the game was not a natural pitch which posed a lot of challenges and threats to the players.
That (playing in artificial turfs) was said in some quarters as the reason why certain Eagles stars would not want to play in some matches and the players were rather cautious in their approach to the game.
Makeshift right back Chidozie Awaziem was a victim of the pitch as he sustained an injury and had to be substituted by Semi Ajayi.
2. Kalu Good Addition But Moses’ Experience Still Needed
Bordeaux new boy Samuel Kalu had an impressive game and was fouled in the Seychelles’ penalty box in one of his many mazy runs which Odion Ighalo scored a penalty from.
Kalu’s pace and trickery meant Victor Moses was not missed specifically in the game but nonetheless the Chelsea star would have been another bow in the Eagles’ arrow.
This is not a call to beg Moses to rescind his retirement decision but if indeed head coach Gernot Rohr still needs him and can convince him, Nigerians should not be negative about it. At 27, Moses can at least give this team another four years.
3. Eagles ‘Suffer’ From Fast Breaks
The Seychelles side do not have superstar players but in spats they had moments of brilliance and almost punished the Nigerians.
The duo of Perry Monnaie and Forel Damont were quick, and in one of their rare surges towards the Nigerian goal, Kenneth Omeruo was yellow-carded for a foul.
The Eagles and in fact African teams have defensive issues especially from defending set pieces but dealing with a side that contain lightning quick players that feed off counters is another area coach Rohr must work on.
In one of Monnaie’s chances, he lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Francis Uzoho after Omeruo misjudged the flight of the ball. The ball went agonisingly wide off target. The counter was very fast and should be ironed out during training drills.
4. No Competition For Uzoho
Francis Uzoho was in goal in his eighth successive match for the Super Eagles in Saturday’s match at the Stade Linite.
Understandably the Elche goalkeeper is being given confidence by coach Rohr but there is the nagging feeling that without competition for the gloves, the 19 year-old custodian may become complacent.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa must be wondering if he will ever get the chance to stand in between the post unless Uzoho gets injured.
The Enyimba goalkeeper is not his club’s first choice but the one who keeps Ezenwa out of the Enyimba team, Theophilus Afelokhai, is not even mentioned.
Rohr unequivocally stated in a live sports programme on television that Nigeria’s best players are those based abroad but with a dearth of goalkeepers it beggars the question why the likes of Afelokhai, or even Okiemute Odah, now in Saudi Arabia, never get considered.
5. Captain’s Duty
Ahmed Musa had the armband on Saturday and had a great game capped by his well struck goal.
Musa is considered an easy going player whose trait in that regard may not suit a captain.
But more pointedly being handed the symbol of leadership thus suggest that Ogenyi Onazi might not be considered a replacement for John Mikel Obi, who was unavailable this weekend, after the reported bust up with the China based midfielder in camp during the World Cup in Russia.
By Izuchukwu Okosi