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Five lessons we learned from Nigeria’s loss to Czech Republic

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Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel (L) and Josef Husbauer (R) of Czech Republic vie for the ball during the international friendly football match between Nigeria and Czech Republic in Rannersdorf, Austria on June 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK

 

The Super Eagles lost to Czech Republic in their final friendly match before the World Cup kicks off. Without a doubt, it was a better performance from the Super Eagles against Czech Republic, but yet another loss. Indeed, the team fared better than it did in the 2-1 loss to the Three Lions of England few days ago. But nonetheless, here are five things we learnt from the match.

Fluidity in a glimpse

In contrast to the team’s display against DR Congo and England, the Super Eagles looked a team that was able to thread passes from the defensive positions, midfield and attack. However, the team lacked penetration and quality in delivering final balls into the attack. The team seemed content in moving the ball across the pitch, only racking up passes to fill the ‘pass completed’ column.

The midfield lacked bite

There were good passing interchanges and a few dribbles from the likes of Alex Iwobi and the captain, John Obi Mikel . But the passing mostly lacked incision, leading to sustained spells of possession without the needed bite.The triumvirate of Ndidi, Mikel and Iwobi showed good ball handling and better understanding of their roles but the lack of creativity meant they were pressed into giving away turnovers that could have hurt the team.

Ndidi’s presence improves the midfield

We saw tackle after tackle and consistent interceptions of play. Thus, it is no gainsaying that Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi contributed above average in ensuring the Oyinbo Wall is covered, as well as general stability of the team. With these, Ndidi’s absence at any time would mean a calamity predestined for the Gernot Rohr led side.

Composed Uzoho

After he received criticism for his performance against England, especially letting Harry Kane’s goal squirm under him, Francis Uzoho seems to have covered himself in glory. The 19 year old provided a performance enough to silence his critics but the Nigerian goalie could certainly do better in ball timing and communicating with his back line, as evident in the goal scored by Tomas Kalas in the first half.

Cold attack

Far from defensive abilities and technical know-how of the manager, Karel Jarolím, the only reason Czech Republic team kept a clean sheet in the match was because the Super Eagles attack lacked fire power to put the defense on their toes. Odion Ighalo had two attempts on goal all through the match and his substitute, Simeon Nwankwo barely had anything to do in the game since his introduction in the 69th minute.


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