Nigeria 0-1 Czech: Five things we learned as Super Eagles head to Russia 2018 World Cup

Nigeria lost 1-0 to Czech republic in a World cup warm-up friendly
Photo credit: Reuters
Nigeria continue their poor run of form ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup. The Super Eagles lost to Czech Republic 1-0 in their final World Cup warm-up match, they are now without a win in four consecutive matches and have not kept a clean sheet in all.

Gernot Rohr went for the 3-5-2 (looked more like 5-3-2) formation that worked in the second half of their 2-1 loss to England in their previous warm-up game but it was still a lacklustre performance by the Super Eagles. Here are some of the things we learnt about the team today:

1. Another slow start, the players tend to start matches slow recently and this might be costly at the World Cup. It usually takes them a while to get into the game. The German coach would need to fix this problem and find a way to motivate his boys before and during each match, they can get some inspiration from the success of the Nigeria World cup 2018 kit.

2. They continue to concede from set piece, Cahill scored the first England goal from a corner kick after some poor marking in the previous friendly, Czech Republic scored from a corner kick also, though Uzoho was able to save the first header before they conceded from the rebound as the Nigerian defenders were slow to react.  They struggled with crosses all through the game and this could be exploited by opponents at the World Cup if they do not work on defensive organization.
3. I think the right formation for this team is 3-5-2 or maybe 3-4-3 but it seems the players are finding it hard to cope with their new roles especially the wingbacks. Bryan Idowu and Shehu Abdullahi struggled today, the former looked lost in his new role as he struggled with coping defensively and looks lost when he is in possession of the ball.  I would like to see Victor Moses play his club role as a right wingback for the Super Eagles and maybe play Ebuehi on the left, though people would argue that he is an attacking outlet as he can carry the ball forward, well he can also do that from right wing back. Nevertheless, Ebuehi should be playing ahead of Shehu, it is understandable that the coach is willing to stick with his regulars from the qualifiers but this is football, players lose form and that's why teams go to tournaments with 23 players.
4. Yes! Wilfred Ndidi played the full 90 minutes and looked good except for some match rustiness he showed early in the game but he was his usual self as the game went on, winning tackles, making interceptions and also shooting from long range. Good work-out for the most important Super Eagles player after the captain.

5. Conclusion, the Super Eagles are not ready for the World Cup, the coach does not know his best starting line-up nor does he know his best formation. Square pegs in round holes all over, playing Victor Moses as a second striker looks weird in a 3-5-2 formation as he has played as a wing back in the last two seasons, rated as one of the best wing-backs in the Premier League. 
Meanwhile, Odion Ighalo finds it hard to score for the team, I can't remember his last goal for the Super Eagles, the coach could try someone else in his position, right? 
One would hope the players have learnt from all their pre-tournament struggles and the coaching team can work with the boys to find a solution before our first game against Croatia on June 16. 


Written by Olusegun Ake

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