The Super Eagles lost for the first time in a competitive game to South Africa on Saturday in front of the Nigerian team's home fans in Uyo. Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD, who was in Uyo to witness the hugely embarrassing Africa Cup of Nations qualifier defeat, outlines the major reasons for the poor result…
1. Iheanacho can't play as a false nine for Super Eagles
Kelechi Iheanacho has been the most prolific forward for the Super Eagles since he made his debut in 2016, scoring six goals in nine matches. But he has failed to click playing as a false nine. The Manchester City forward has thrived playing alongside a natural striker who could run into spaces for him to operate. Iheanacho sparkled in training for the Super Eagles because the Eagles had no recognised striker with pedigree playing with the senior national team. Since Rohr was taking a big risk of his young side he could have well taken the gamble on Kayode Olanrewaju or Victor Osimhen whom he listed on the substitutes bench for the Eagles.
2. The defence of the Super Eagles not organised enough
Chidozie Awaziem made his competitive debut for the Super Eagles and was average against South Africa. The Porto B defender did not form a good understanding with William Troost-Ekong who he partnered in the heart of the Eagles defence. Awaziem was caught off guard several times when the South African launched counter-attacks. He also did not also fill in for the left-back Elderson Echiejile when Echiejile joined the attack. Echiejile also was far from his best during the game. As the most senior player in the team, Echiejile failed to marshal his defence. The young Eagles defence were culpable for the first goal while they lacked the pace to catch up with South African full-back who got behind the Eagles defence at will.
3. Eagles lacked creativity in midfield
Despite the array of attacking talent Gernot Rohr had at his disposal, the Super Eagles lacked creativity from the midfield. The likes of Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho were off colour during the encounter and John Ogu who was left out of the squad for the game could have offered the Eagles some sort of attacking threat going forward when the Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi fizzled out in the second half. There was no creative move orchestrated from the midfield and coach Gernot Rohr paid dearly for his overreliance on Iwobi, Iheanacho and Moses Simon in attack.
4. Gernot Rohr got his tactics wrong
Keeping a versatile player like John Ogu out of the the squad cost the Super Eagles quality substitution options during the game. The midfield trio of Ogenyi Onazi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi fielded by coach Gernot Rohr could not sustain the tempo as the game wore on. The likes of Victor Osimhen and Kayode Olanrewaju who made their official debuts made little impact coming on as late replacements. Also, the Eagles coach Rohr had no plan B during the game, having started the game with their traditional 4-3-3 formation.
5. Lack of experience in the team
It was obvious that the Super Eagles lacked experience to maintain the pressure to break the resolute South African side who were determined to get something from the game. The big players like Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo and Victor Moses that missed out could have offered valuable options in midfield and in attack. There was no game calmer in the starting line-up neither was there any game changer.