The Super Eagles of Nigeria ended their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification series with a 3-1 win over Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta state on Friday.
Goals from Odion Ighalo, Henry Onyekuru and Simon Moses ensured Gernot Rohr’s men finished top of Group E.
Nigeria had a lion’s share of possession against the Seychelles, but moves constantly broke down in the final third.
While having the ball in defence and midfield was all well and good, the inability to pull off intricate moves to unlock their congested rearguard was disappointing.
It could be a blueprint to be followed against the Super Eagles, and sides with superior quality in attack than Gavin Jeanne’s side could then hit on fast breaks – something the Pirates struggled to do
In a side that can lack in imaginative ability and ingenuity, the consequence of the brightest player in that regard having a game to forget was evident in Nigeria’s performance.
Specifically, against the lowly ranked East Africans Iwobi had arguably his worst outing in the green jersey.
It was particularly characterized with heavy touches and erratic passing which predictably spread across the side as the player assigned to offer that poise failed with this remit.
There’s no distinct player in Rohr’s side with the skillset of the Arsenal playmaker, and that dearth of quality could be significant against top opposition in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
At this point in time, it’s a question that needs to be asked, given Rohr has placed all his faith in the young shot-stopper.
The Anorthosis Famagusta shot-stopper made another shocking error in goal which led to Rody Melanie leveling things up after Odion Ighalo’s penalty sent the home side 1-0 up.
How the 20-year-old managed to make the comical error is anyone’s guess, but the uncertainty with him in goal begs the question whether he is good enough to be the West Africans’ number one.
Even though many had called for the Galatasaray forward to get more game time, Friday’s encounter probably wasn’t the best time to utilize him given how the opposition were expected to defend.
Nevertheless, the wideman still found room a few times to show his pace to leave his marker for dead. Similarly, Onyekuru’s off-the-ball movement came to the fore when he got on the end of Jamilu Collins’ cross to send the Super Eagles back in front.
While Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu are natural wingers whose major strength is dribbling, Onyekuru, who’s no slouch in leaving his marker for dead, has that goalscoring instinct which could be extremely useful for Rohr down the line.