Iwobi, Iheanacho give Nigeria a super start to World Cup qualifiers
• Beat Zambia 2-1 in Ndola
• Erico wants Rohr to work on grey areas
The nation’s senior national team, the Super Eagles, yesterday in Ndola, Zambia did the unexpected, by defeating the Chipolopolo in their back yard.
Two strikes from the Premiership duo of Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC) and Kelechi Iheancho (Manchester City) in the 33rd and 43rd minutes were all what the three-time African champions needed to secure three vital points of the encounter. Zambia’s Collins Mbesuma got a consolation goal for the home team in the 71st minute of the game.
Coach Gernot Rohr made swift changes in the team that included, Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi and Moses Simon, Kenneth Omeruo, and Olympiakos striker Brown Ideye against the Zambians yesterday. Notable names such as, Ahmed Musa and Musa Mohammed were left to watch from the bench.
The Zambian coach, Wedson Nyirenda, fielded a strong Chipolopolo side in a desperate move to get their World Cup campaign on a bright note, but was left gasping for breath after the goals scored by Iwobi and Iheanacho.
Goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, who was called to duty on some occasions from Zambia’s Mbesuma, Kalaba and Jackson Mwanza, saved the day for the Nigerian side with his calmness in goal. The Zambians mounted pressure on the Eagles’ defence in the second half with defender Umero forced to make mistakes that almost resulted into a goal. But all these proved abortive as Eagles came out victorious for the first time on the Zambia’s soil.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday after the match, Erico said it was a good thing that the Eagles started their World Cup qualifier with a win against a tough side like the Zambians.
“The most important thing is that we won the match against the Zambians, which is good for us. We thank God for that. The next thing is to look forward to subsequent matches. The entire team is in good shape; the players all did their best. It speaks about the chemistry that the players in that team needs.
“From this match, the Coach Rohr should now look at the grey areas discovered in the team and subsequently work on them for other games during the qualifiers. In the match against the Zambians, I noticed probably the coach was a bit conscious as the team was away from home and may be because it is first game of the qualifiers. Definitely, at home we will be offensive. I thank God we won the match, which is the most important thing,” he stated.