Nigeria's Super Eagles picked up their first win away in two years, ending Zambia's invincibility at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and kicking off the tough Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign on a victorious note.
Completespprtsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD learnt several things from that crucial 2-1 win. Here are five of them…
1. EAGLES NEED GOOD DEFENCE
A major problem faced by Gernot Rohr is how he will sort his defence out ahead of the next game. Kenneth Omeruo is still susceptible to costly errors as seen in the game against Zambia. The Eagles coach needs to find a reliable centre-back. But thankfully injured Leon Balogun should be fully fit for the game against Algeria in Uyo on the 12th of November.
It was also evident from Rohr's choice at right-back for the game against Zambia that both Musa Mohammed and Shehu Abdulahi aren't the kind of disciplined right-backs needed to win games. The German coach handed Genk defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi an unfamiliar role at right-back in the game and it showed in the left-footed player's shambolic performance. He was repeatedly beaten by Zambian forwards and constantly caused panic in the Nigeria defence.
On the left side Elderson Echiejile has lost yards of pace and did not join up with the attack when he needed to. He was also too easily beaten by Zambian forwards.
Kenneth Omeruo was also shaky at centre-back and his amateurish error led to Zambia's goal. The only solid performers in the defence were William Troost-Ekong and goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
2. EAGLES MIDFIELD LACKS GRIT, PACE AND POWER
The combination of Ogenyi Onazi, Mikel Obi and Kelechi Iheanacho lacked grit, pace and power to curtail the Zambians on Sunday. While Mikel and Onazi were culpable for several poor passes throughout the game, Iheanacho was too slow to link with the lively duo of Moses Simon and Alex Iwobi playing on the flanks. The Eagles midfield must be mobile enough to cut off rampaging attacks and start off swift attacks in subsequent games. That was lacking in the win over the Chipolopolo in Ndola.
The game against Algeria will see the Eagles face a different opposition that won't show too much respect like the Zambians did in the first half. Players like Azubuike Okechukwu, Usman Mohammed, Anderson Esiti and John Ogu are good options to shore up the team’s lethargic midfield
3. WHO NEEDS ENYEAMA IN THE EAGLES?
After nine international games for the Super Eagles, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme is gradually becoming a reliable choice in goal. Ikeme made five important saves to help the team clinch their first win on the road since 2014. The 30-year-old has kept five clean sheets since making his debut for Nigeria against Tanzania last year and could become a world class goalkeeper for the Eagles if he gets the needed cover from his defenders.
4. EAGLES NEED BACK-UP STRIKERS
The absence of Odion Ighalo, the team's first choice striker, was an opportunity for Brown Ideye to stake a claim for the position but the Olympiakos forward failed to live up to the billing, failing to force a save from Kennedy Mweene for the 73 minutes he played. His only notable contribution in the win was his layoff for Kelechi Iheanacho for the Manchester City forward to score his fourth goal in six international appearances.
Anthony Nwakeame, Kayode Olanrewaju are players who could stake claims for the position.
5. IWOBI IS EAGLES NEW JOKER
Every time Alex Iwobi gets on the ball, you have the feeling that something is about to happen. The Arsenal forward aside from Rainford Kalaba, Fwayo Tembo and Moses Simon had the most succeful dribbles in the encounter. His pass to Ideye in the 19th minute split the Zambia's defence before he got off the mark in the 33rd minute.
Iwobi has four assists so far this season for Arsenal and he is displaying the type of performances that Nigerians expect of him for the Super Eagles. Giving him the role behind the striker may well bring out the best in the chosen striker.