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Five things we learned from Poland vs Nigeria

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Wilfred Ndidi and William Troost-Ekong shield Robert Lewandowski from getting the ball in the Poland against Nigeria match at Wroclaw

Victor Moses struck a penalty to hand the Super Eagles the victory against the Red and White of Poland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw. Moses won the penalty in the 61st minute after a jinking run into the box where he was adjudged to have been brought down by Marcin Kaminski. The victory continues the impressive run the Super Eagles have had under Coach Gernot Rohr. Here are things we learned from the friendly fixture.

Moses needs an upturn in form

For a player so evidently important to the Super Eagles, Victor Moses was too often on the fringes of the game; just lolling along as the game passed him by. It took till the second half for Moses to rev his engines at the freezing Municipal stadium in Wroclaw. Moses got the ball, sped past two defenders before he was brought down in the box after another dribble attempt. He won the penalty and he scored from the spot with aplomb. It was good to see a player with confidence issues, stemming from his poor form with his club get on the score sheet but his burning moment afterwards was still too short. He was far from the talisman the Super Eagles needed to delivering awe-inspiring moments last year. Rohr certainly will be worried for Moses, needing him to drive the attack as well as consistently impact games.

Uzoho produces decent performance after early jitters

A large part of the build up to the game was centered around the goalkeeping challenges and uncertainties in the Super Eagles. Uzoho got the nod to start the game ahead of Ikechukwu Ezenwa. At the opening stages of the game, the goalkeeper looked to have caught the jitters, not looking assured. It had him slip into a moment of self-parody where he terribly misjudged a cross, charging into the a cluster of bodies and caught off the line as the ball almost crossed the line but for Leon Balogun’s timely clearance.

The Deportivo La Coruna goal keeper came back stronger in the second half and looked much more composed, saving shots and commanding his area. His kicking and ball distribution still needs work but Uzoho decent showing in the second half should atone for the cold feet he had in the first half of his full debut.

Joel Obi offers different qualities to Mikel Obi

Joel Obi got into the side with many hoping he could offer some level of calm and poise to an oft erratic midfield especially in Mikel Obi’s absence but the Torino midfielder barely checked those boxes.

Obi was granted 65 minutes to prove his mettle starting ahead of Ogenyi Onazi as part of the midfield pair alongside Wilfred Ndidi. While the Torino midfielder showed intensity, drive and mobility, he perhaps is not exactly fitting in a midfield duo. There simply was too much ground to cover for Obi. The passing from the midfielder wasn’t exactly crisp also, with the midfield transitioning the ball poorly.

Troost-Ekong delivers solid performance in the defence

Keeping Lewandowski in check deserves plaudits; after all, the forward scored 16 goals in the World Cup qualifiers and is considered one of the deadliest strikers in the world. William Troost-Ekong stuck to the Polish forward, barely giving him time on the ball. Lewandowski’s movement was meant to cause problems for the defensive pairing of Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun but the defence held its own. Although in the 8th minute, the Bayern Munich forward almost got a goal from a low cross into the box, the defence adjusted accordingly tracking all of Lewandowski’s movements. Like a bloodhound with a scent, Troost-Ekong tracked Lewandowski affording him time on the ball only when he dropped deep to receive a pass.

Flat attack in need of tuning

The Super Eagles offered no real attacking threat against the Poles. The front four looked disjointed and the attacking play lacked a pattern. Kelechi Iheanacho seemed on a different wavelength to his partner Odion Ighalo. Ighalo’s hold up play was good but he barely had the ball in positions where he could do some damage. Victor Moses only awakened to dribble his way past two defenders into the box to win a penalty which he calmly dispatched. Iwobi was largely ineffectual in the game playing on the left side. The attack lacked the zip and zing of previous matches while simple combination passes between the attackers was nonexistent.


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