In the aftermath of a slightly disappointing performance from the Super Eagles in their 2-1 defeat to Algeria in Oran, we look at five key talking points from the encounter from the perspective of the Nigerian side.
- Goalkeeping problem persists: After the two games against two different Algerian teams, one fact that remains is that Jose Peseiro has his work cut out to find a longstanding solution to the team’s goalkeeping problem. For a while under Gernot Rohr, Maduka Okoye was the team’s undisputed first choice but that has changed now. The Watford man conceded a horrendous goal against the local Algerian side before being dropped for the second game. The Algerians’ winner tonight was a piledriver from around 30 yards out but Francis Uzoho could have done better with sorting his feet out to make the save. The Nigerians have the relatively untested Adebayo Adeleye as the next best option and the onus is on Peseiro to hand him a chance given the lack of games of both Okoye and Uzoho.
- Iwobi is a star: Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi is revelling in his new midfield role for club and country. The 26-year-old midfielder was the Super Eagles best player in both games against the Algerians and has also been nominated for the Premier League’s Player of the Month award. Since moving to his deeper midfield position, the Super Eagles star has found a new level in his game.
- Bassey is here to stay: When 22-year-old Calvin Bassey emerged on the national team stage, many doubted his ability to last with the Super Eagles. The Ajax man was impeccable in his role as a centre-back against the Algerians, marshaling Islam Slimani very impressively. The former Rangers man is surely one to look carefully at with the Super Eagles in the next years. He will be an important player to the team.
- Moffi will provide competition for Osimhen: Having been thrust into the starting lineup against the Algerians, Terem Moffi managed a respectable display and found the back of the net. The FC Lorient man now has three goals in his last two games for the Super Eagles, having also scored a brace against Sao Tome. With the recurring injuries faced by Victor Osimhen, Moffi is the perfect striker to deputise for the talented Napoli striker.
- Lack of technicality an issue against Algeria: Nigeria’s players showed a lack of technical brilliance on the ball in Oran, leading to unforced turnovers and ball losses. While the Algerians had Ismael Bennacer, Riyad Mahrez and Youcef Belaili pulling the strings with their impressive technical ability, the Nigerians failed to give Alex Iwobi a chance to really effect the game. The absence of Joe Aribo from the game also reduced the Super Eagles technical capabilities in midfield by a notch.