Super Eagles: Gernot Rohr has plenty of work to do
If Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr had any delusions about the quality of the senior men’s national team, the recent international friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia provided really useful insight.
The Eagles were largely insipid, failing to inspire against their north African opponents. Yes, they hadn’t played in a while, and were missing some key players, but we still expected a lot better from the team.
This is particularly more concerning because the African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone are only weeks away.
Nigerian football fans are amongst the most demanding in the world, and will not tolerate below par performances from the former African champions.
Most of the criticisms have been aimed in the direction of the head coach, Gernot Rohr.
The Super Eagles may sit atop their Nations Cup qualifying group with six points from two matches, but they were hardly convincing in victories over minnows Benin and Lesotho.
The October international window once again showed up the deficiencies in the team.
They only lost by the solitary goal against African champions Algeria, but that score line flattered Rohr’s men. There was hardly any improvement in the second match against Tunisia.
The Eagles were slight favourites to beat Tunisia, with odds of 2.60 on popular betting sites like bet9ja as against 3.10 for their opponents, but they never really got going at the Jacques Leman Arena.
They are still far off a team that can compete against top nations on the continent, let alone on the global stage.
Gernot Rohr’s team looked very disjointed. The players lacked ideas on the pitch, and the bench seemed devoid of any game-changing tactical input.
The age-old problem of creativity is still an issue. Alex Iwobi has seen the creative responsibility lumped on him over time but despite his best efforts, it is clear that he cannot shoulder that responsibility alone.
Upfront, the lone centre forward often cut an isolated figure, needing to fend for himself without much support and service from the men behind him.
Our wide players are full of energy and vigour, bur their end product leaves a lot more to be desired
Rohr needs to be more flexible with his tactics. Maybe switch up the double pivot and go with an extra creative midfielder or another center forward? Maybe go longer when the team is struggling to play through opposition, especially with a big man like Paul Onuachu in the side?
To be fair to the manager, he was without some of his key players during the international break. Wilfried Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Victor Osimhen were all missing, but Rohr had enough players in that squad to put on a better show.
This was a chance for the Eagles’ boss to show off his tactical acumen and set up a team that can perform and win big matches. The manager did not exactly come out in flying colours.
Defensively, the back line is all over the place with no synergy and understanding, while the goalkeeping problems in the side continue to reoccur. So far, at least seven goalkeepers have been handed call ups in the last couple of years but the problem is far from being solved. The Eagles are still in need of major surgery in many areas of the pitch.
Among the few positives from the international window are Porto youngster, Zaidu Sanusi and right back, Tyronne Ebuehi, who returned to the fold after consistent injury problems.
Given the unremarkable nature of our Nations Cup qualifying group, we should have no problems navigating a section that includes Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leone, but the real challenge comes at the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers. In fact, many betting sites have Nigeria as strong favourites to finish comfortably on top of the group.
However, Rohr and his men must improve significantly if they are to take down the best teams in the world.