The second round of games in the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers were held during the last international break.
Nigeria were held to a scoreless draw by the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, September 5, which was Sunday Oliseh’s first match as the Eagles coach.
The performance of the team was poor but they produced a better performance three days later in an international friendly against Niger Republic.
So as attention is again on league commitments for the players, Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI asks key questions regarding what Oliseh must consider before the next international break.
1. Who Are His Best Options In Attack?
Nigeria no longer produce quality strikers in the mould of late Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokach and Victor Ikpeba or wingers like Finidi George and Emmanuel Amunike.
Though the current crop of strikers are at best decent, and are still capable of some quality performances in fits, they are not quite like the ones that struck fear in the opposition two decades ago.
Sunday Oliseh set tongues wagging when he shunned the likes of Odion Ighalo and Obafemi Martins for the 2017 AFCON qualifier on September 5, but he did admit that the players will be invited for subsequent matches.
So the question is: Who will be Oliseh’s choice of invited strikers for the team’s 2018 World preliminary second round of qualifiers and beyond? Will Obafemi Martins and Ikechukwu Uche Be Back and play key roles in the Super Eagles?
Both players may be in the twilight of their careers but have proven that when fit, could be great assets to the team for a few more years before they hang up their boots.
Will he opt to play a single striker or two up front?
Odion Ighalo and Kelechi Iheanacho scored for their Premier League clubs on Saturday to underline the need to have them in the Eagles.
2. Will He Pursue Alli, Akpom Case After Ibe Snub?
Sunday Oliseh has revealed the decision of Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe to represent England and not Nigeria.
Oliseh was clearly interested in working with the winger but the revelation over the weekend must have provoked the thoughts of the former Eagles midfield star who was in England to speak with Nigerian players.
Oliseh must have engaged the Ibe family in a heart-to-heart dialogue but the feedback wasn’t positive from a Nigeria perspective apparently.
Oliseh confirmed Ibe’s snub on Twitter: “Jordon Ibe’s Family Informed me by a Telephone call, that He was giving priority to an England call up. We wish them well.”
Ibe is a wonderful talent and would have added some pace and directness in the Super Eagles’ game.
Oliseh’s decision to have the Nigerian represent the country of his father is commendable.
Nigeria have lost decent talents even to African teams like Razaq Omotoyossi and Muri Ogunbiyi (to Benin Republic) and to other European countries like David Alaba (Austria).
Some Nigerian-born stars like Gabriel Agbolanhor, John Salako, John Fashanu (though John Fashanu was in Nigeria for a Nigerian call-up but was never capped) have opted to represent England in the past but have never quite cut it.
So Ibe’s choice is an intriguing one.
Perhaps the Ibe family felt if the news made big headlines, that it will spin the tide in their son’s favour as England manager Roy Hodgson casts his eyes on the English players ahead of the Euro 2016.
So with the outcome of the Ibe chase, Oliseh has a choice to make whether to try and convince other Nigerian-born players like Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi (though he has shown Nigerian interest, then at the U23 level), Dominic Iorfa (jnr) and Dele Alli to play for Nigeria and not England.
It is a situation that he will need to sort out soon.
3. What is the role of Mikel Obi in the Super Eagles?
The issue of the relevance and best position for Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi in the Super Eagles is one that will always be deliberated by Nigerian football fans.
The former youth international has divided opinion among football fans in Nigeria.
A large portion of fans feel the Chelsea star is arrogant and hasn’t progressed his game significantly.
There are others who beg to differ and have pointed at Mikel’s experience and having worked with each Chelsea manager since he signed for the club as being enough reasons to tolerate his weaknesses.
So what does Oliseh do with Mikel Obi?
Should he throw the baby away with the bath water or should he have a roundtable talk with him on how to be a better player and person on and off the pitch after his (Mikel) alleged shunning of the Eagles coach’s numerous calls prior to the game against Tanzania.
Mikel’s experience and clout suggest that with a ‘little slap on the wrist’ and ‘brotherly conversation’ devoid of ego, pride and bitterness, Mikel will turn a new leaf and replicate once again his Holland 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, 2013 AFCON and 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup forms for Nigeria.
4. What Are The Chances of Home-Based Players?
The home-based players have always felt marginalised in the scheme of things in the national team.
They are first to hit camp, though understandably so. However what is sometimes baffling is the insistence on inviting overseas-based players for the sake of it, irrespective of current form and other factors.
The Super Eagles attackers in European leagues as well as some midfielders, and the goalkeepers are quality players but there are a few positions that still need upgrades and upgrades can come from the Nigeria Professional Football League.
So will Oliseh trust the home-based stars and give them more opportunities in the team or should they (home-based Eagles stars) focus purely on representing the country at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) instead of their dedication and work ethic being under-utilised