Five things we Learned from Super Eagles’ Friendly loss to Serbia

Five things we Learned from Super Eagles’ Friendly loss to Serbia

The all-important March international friendlies have come and gone. The Super Eagles made do with the opportunity as a build-up to the June World Cup kick off.

Interesting things transpired and, in this post, brila.net summarizes 5 key points from the international friendlies

Francis Uzoho

Francis Uzoho [Image: RCdeportivo]


1, Francis Uzoho is not the anointed one

No, he is not. Bar the performance of the young goaltender in his debut against Argentina last year, Uzoho’s true colour came to show against Poland and Serbia.

He couldn’t arrange the defense line in front of him (we can blame it on his age), his reflexes aren’t that bad, however, his composure in front of goal is a thing to worry.

The goalmouth scramble and then those two goals against Serbia? Its good that Poland/Serbia are friendlies but the number 1 shirt puzzle is not yet solved.

Super Eagles - Jude Ighalo

Odion Ighalo in action for the Super Eagles against Poland [Image: Getty Images]

2, If Ighalo is the only reliable number 9?

Then it shows how much “attacking” football we can play. The Super Eagles scored once and conceded twice during the friendlies and didn’t manage up 5 shots on target in both games. It’s a poor reflection of our attacking intent considering that Nigeria scored 11 times in 6 games during the qualifiers.

The World Cup is the biggest stage, these friendlies are a mere test run to the main event and football is a game you win by scoring more number of goals than your opponent.

The Serbia game saw Ahmed Musa deployed in front to hustle against a Serbia defense of Branislav Ivanovic and Matej Nastasic. Poor Musa couldn’t do much and supporting Alex Iwobi would drop deep at some point to retrieve balls while Victor Moses barely run around the circle. In Ighalo’s absence do the Super Eagles have a reliable number 9?

Super Eagles

Obi Mikel  [Image: NFF]

3, The Mikel factor

The Super Eagles skipper John Obi Mikel pulled out of the friendlies due to work permit issues. Nevertheless, the experience, leadership and maturity attributes were missing especially against Serbia.

The team lacked coercion and the team shape was affected on the pitch. A factor the team leader would have tried to curtail. The returning Joel Obi didn’t live up to expectation as his display can be rated average. Wilfred Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi did well but in all the leading figure was missing.

Pinnick says the Super Eagles are still a promising bunch despite 2-0 defeat to Serbia

Credit: Getty Images

4, Rohr team is not yet a finished product.

This is correct. Nigerians can expect miracles from this young squad and all but truth be told, this present squad is not completely complete. Save the Argentina friendly the Super Eagles scored 4 times. To struggle in these games is  not a statement that “we have arrived” rather it’s a statement of “we still have much work to do”

The Super Eagles managed about 40% possession of the ball in both games. If so, it may be worse against a more possessive Croatia team inspired by the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic and of course the quick attacking Argentine team inspired by loads of big names.

Gernot Rohr must pick only the best for Super Eagles according to Garba Lawal

Credit: Getty Images

5, The games begged for an experienced defender

The defensive frailty was rightly exposed during the friendlies. We threw this question before now, in the absence of Shehu Abdullahi, Leon Balogun, Williams Troost Ekong and Elderson Echiejile, which other formidable defensive back four can we call on? Russian based Bryan Idowu who came in place of experienced and influential Elderson Echiejile was below average in both games where he started.

Bryan’s game was characterised by uncompleted passes, wrong positioning and less support to the attacking intentions of the team.

The two games yelled for an experienced defensive knight and Elderson would have been the soothing option nevertheless, the coach had other ideas. The same stick can be used on Tyronne Ebuehi whose leaky position was severely exposed by the Serbians which resulted in Mitrovic’s brace.

Though as Nigerians would like to believe that anything is possible (anything like beating Argentina and Croatia with ease) which is a positive approach, however, in these games a shaky defense can spell terror for the whole team.

When the chips are down, Rohr will look to his experienced and matured defenders to get the job done.

We expect a better showing in subsequent friendlies before the World Cup kick-off.

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