Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Luxembourg Game and the Super Eagles (Ratings Included)

The score line of 3-1 over Luxembourg meant little in the larger scheme of things but you felt that Nigeria could have gone home with a much larger victory over this Luxembourg team. The domination was total except for the first few minutes when Nigeria appeared disjointed and disorganized. In the end, not much can be taken from this game except a few things that I point to below.

1.     Omeruo’s mistakes are getting a bit too troubling. This is not the first and you hope it is the last one. His unforced error let Luxembourg into the game when they hardly merited it.

2.     Kelechi Iheanacho had a coming out party tonight. It was by far his best game and now he definitely must be the starting striker. The way he moved about, his confidence, his ability to be at the right place and at the right time is simply mindboggling. I state it now, Nigeria has not had a sharp forward like this since Thompson Usiyan. Forget Obafemi Martins, Ike Uche, and the rest. I know it is Luxembourg, but the things you saw from Iheanacho tonight or you saw in his games with City has a clear signature to it.
3.     Though Nigeria never seemed to get into a second gear in this game, you sensed their superiority over Luxembourg.

4.     In the first half, Nigeria’s transition from attack to defending is simply poor at the moment. In several cases, the midfielders looked out of place when we did not have the ball after surging forward.
5.     Onazi Ogenyi, skipper for today, but his misplaced passes are quickly accumulating and on many occasions there are easier options to play the pass. Watching Shehu Abdullahi play today, it seems to me that he will be a much better defensive midfield partner for Mikel Obi.

In any case here are my ratings for the players along with very brief comments (Scale 1-10/6 is average):

Daniel Akpeyi (16) – 6.0 – Did very little and may well have been on a vacation. He answered the long range efforts of the outclassed Luxembourg team.

Musa Mohammed (19) – 6.2 – It is hard to tell that this guy was only playing his second game for Nigeria. He really fits in with assured display. Perhaps, it was just Luxembourg. Just maybe.

Uwa Echiejile (3) – 6.0 – Average and subdued display from Echiejile. It seems that his career at this level may well be on the downward trend.

William Troost-Ekong (5) 6.8 – This guy was never one of my favorites but my hat off to him. He was businesslike and his usual couple of errors did not exist today. IMHO, the best defender on the field today.

Kenneth Omeruo (4) 6.0 – Average display and his forays upfront, albeit few, are disasters waiting to happen. Then in the dying minutes, he turned the ball over unforced. His time in the middle of that defense is increasingly numbered.

Onazi Ogenyi (cpt-17) – 5.7 – A big weakness passing the ball any meaningful distance. He has too many poor passes in a game that it makes you wonder how long he will retain a starting shirt.

Abdullahi Shehu (12) – 6.5 – IMHO, knocking on the door as the starting defensive midfields besides the absent Mikel Obi. This lad was all over covering the defense and making the right decision with the ball on all occasions.

Alex Iwobi (20) – 5.9 -- Largely anonymous in this game. Appears to defer too much to others. We know he has the talent but he must begin to demonstrate this consistently at this level.

Umar Aminu (13) – 7.0 – Very dangerous player and with pace. He was totally responsible for the opening goal and most of the dangerous first half attack. However, he appears to ditter too much with the ball which slows the other players. This dittering has to change going forward. Just my tuppence.

Kelechi Iheanacho (10) – 7.2 – Truly outstanding in this game. It isn’t just his goal and his assist but his overall domination of the game. See my comment on top of the page. A truly great one, it appears.

Brown Ideye (8) – 6.0 – He took his goal particularly well considering his problems in similar situations in the past. Apart from that, not much else was on display.

Raheem Lawal (18) – 6.2 – He stroked the ball along and did make himself available as an outlet for defensive passes. He fit in seamlessly and had a good game.

Michael Babatunde (7) – 5.9 – This guy works hard but his control can be wild at times as was the case on several occasions today. Then he fluffed a one and one chance at the very end when it seemed easy to score.

Moses Simon (11) – 6.0 – Very talented player with pace. However, he tends to focus on individual play a bit much. However, he had the vision to make the pass for the second goal. IMO, an average display today.

Wilfred Ndidi (21) – 6.0 – Nothing spectacular but he put in an assured display but he is not ready to step into a starting role as of now.

Gbenga Arokoyo (2) – 5.9 – Average and unnoticed in this game. Then  fell asleep and lost a pass from his goalkeeper early on. Not much from this player in this game.

Jude Ighalo (9) – 5.9 –An average display and he finally scored after going scoreless in several games for Nigeria. However, he had his share of misses even though he was on for just 20 minutes. A particularly example of this is when Iheanacho sent him through with a long pass in the 79th minute only for him to fail to lift the ball past an uncovered goalie.

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