Completespprtsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD presents the players the Super Eagles must stop in order to win the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Uyo…
RIYAD MAHREZ (Leicester City)
Riyad Mahrez remains the biggest threat Algeria may pose when they face the Super Eagles in Uyo if he gets the chance. The CAF African Player of the Year nominee scored a total of 23 goals in 54 appearances for Leicester City last season and has scored four times this term. Mahrez played a crucial role in helping Algeria qualify for the group stages of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the 2017 African Nations Cup and his sterling form for his club has seen him on the shortlist for the FIFA Best Player award.
The Fennecs will be banking on the 25-year-old's trickery on the ball, his quick passing and through balls to get past the Nigerian defence. Mahrez is a dynamic dribbler and a sharp shooter but he is not’t strong physically or in the air either and this could be an advantage for the Super Eagles who could easily out muscle him off the ball.
His blistering pace down the flanks will also be crucial to his side creating goal scoring chances. Mahrez’s role becomes especially important in this regard, as the Algerian attack will be without the highly rated Adam Ounas for the encounter.
NABIL BENTALEB (Schalke 04/Germany)
Bentaleb is a versatile central midfielder who can play in the hole behind the striker or at left wing, although was deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham Hotspur. The 23-year-old star has been impressive for Schalke 04 on loan playing as a holding midfielder.
Bentaleb has started eight of Schalke's nine Bundesliga games this term, scoring three times and providing two assists. He has also created 31 chances and had 15 shots on target so far this season. The midfield enforcer will be saddled with the responsibility of shackling the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses if they get to start behind the striker.
ISLAM SLIMANI (Leicester City)
Slimani has enjoyed a steady rise since in the English Premier League since he joined the reigning champions Leicester City from Sporting Lisbon.
The 28-year-old has three goals for Leicester and has provided one assist for the Foxes including the winner against Porto in the Champions League this season and has shown his aerial prowess justifying his move worth £28m potentially rising by another £2m.
Dubbed the “the dragon-slayer” for his goal-scoring record against Porto, Slimani can cause the Super Eagles defence all sorts of problems using his height (6’2) and strength to his advantage and if he gets the right supply from the likes of Yacine Brahimi, Rachid Ghezzal and Mahrez, the 'fox' will be very dangerous to curtail.
RACHID GHEZZAL (Lyon/France)
Rachid Ghezzal is slightly overshadowed by the pair of Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi in the Algeria squad, but Ghezzal can lay claim to being one of the best players operating from the left wing in French Ligue 1 at the moment.
A left-footed play-maker blessed with astonishing vision, according to whoscored.com, Ghezzal has made eight assists for Lyon this term. He also provided an assist via a free-kick for Corentin Tolisso to earn Lyon a share of the spoils with five minutes to go against Juventus in Turin in a Champions League clash.
He has formed a fine partnership with striker Islam Slimani in the Algerian team.
Ghezzal has made 11 appearances so far this campaign, netting once against Saint Etienne in Ligue 1.
YACINE BRAHIMI (FC Porto)
Brahimi is a fabulously gifted player without a doubt. The Algerian star has bagged 21 goals in 85 appearances for FC Porto since joining from Granada.
Brahimi plays as a support striker for Algeria and he is simply unplayable when attacking from the flanks and attacking the by-line, he is arguably even more effective when drifting inside, his tight control, intelligent combination play and clinical finishing making him a nightmare for opposition defences. But the Eagles can frustrate him as he has a questionable attitude when incensed.