Sunday, 3 June 2018

England vs Nigeria Friendly: 5 Things Nigeria Learnt From Super Eagles Defeat

When the Super Eagles of Nigeria filed out against the Three Lions of England in a friendly match on Saturday, June 2, 2018, there were lots of expectations and anxiety in the outcome.

At the end of 90 minutes, the English team ran out 2-1 victors, with the result further asking questions as to the preparedness of the Eagles for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
However, these were 5 things we learned from the match.

1. Player Selection Is Genort Rohr's  Headache

One of the big lessons in the match was head coach, Gernot Rohr's selection headache and this could be seen in the way he set up the team ahead of the World Cup. During the match, it was glaring that there was a paradigm shift in the affairs of the game following the substitution of Joel Obi for John Ogu, Abdullahi Shehu for Tyrone Ebuehi, as well as Leon Balogun for Kenneth Omeruo and Ogenyi Onazi for Oghenekaro Etebo in the second half.

Their introduction brought flair to the game; better stability in midfield, better flow of pass and a more decent defensive line.
2. The Eagles Played Better In The Second Half

In most of the matches the Eagles have played under the Franco-German coach, the team has always struggled in the first half while they always seem to improve and up their game in the second half. The match against England was no exception as the Eagles put every foot wrong in the first half but improved considerably in the second.

In the first 45 minutes, the Eagles struggled to contain the fluid English team led by Harry Kane and could have conceded more than the two goals they let in if the English attackers had been more clinical.

But as usual, in the second half, they played with more purpose, controlling the game and pulled a goal back through Arsenal's Alex Iwobi.

That said, if the Eagles are to have any meaningful impact in Russia, they should shed the toga of being a second half team.

3. Poor Midfield 

The case of the midfield was quite pathetic in the first half with captain John Mikel Obi, Joel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi looking particularly rusty and lacking in coordination. It can be said that the absence of Leicester City midfield enforcer, Ndidi Wilfred did not help matters but then, playing two attacking midfield players in such a match was Rohr's undoing knowing that they would not be able to contain the rampaging Three Lions.
The introduction of Oghenekaro Etebo and John Ogu in the second half did a lot to stem the tide and the Eagles played better. The introduction of the duo saw Iwobi drifting to the center to help orchestrate things.

4. Three-man Defence Desirable
Rorh once again proved his tactical acumen when he switched to a three-man defence in the second half when he took out Leon Balogun for Kenneth Omeruo and Ogenyi Onazi for John Ogu.

Omeruo and Ogu joined William Troost-Ekong in a three-man defence, while full-backs, Tyrone Ebuehi and Brian Idowu had the license to push further forward and this paid off tremendously.
Playing as wing-backs, the duo were able to put the English defence on the back foot while Etebo and Mikel got closer in midfield with Iwobi operating from the middle, putting pressure on England’s three-man defence.
5. Super Eagles Showing Promises
The friendly match with England once again showed that the Super Eagles have a lot of potentials and enough arsenal to scare any team when there is cohesion. The team was able to take control of the game in the second stanza with their crisp one-touch passes which put the English team under a great pressure.
The team has a lot of youthful and hungry players who can take on any opposition on their good day and if they can play to their full potentials.

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