The regular football season is over and many countries have started with the preparations towards the world cup which is just about a week away. Nigerians darling Super Eagles haven’t been left out and they have also been busy preparing for the Mundial in Russia. They have played three preparatory games in the build up to World Cup. While there have been some positives from the three games, it’s important to state that there’s still a lot of work to do for Gernot Rohr team if they want to make a statement in Russia and we’ll be taking a look at the things Rohr will need to address ahead of their first game against the Croats which is just less than 10 days away.
Find the best formation: In the game against the three lions of England Rohr started with 4-3-3 formation he used in the qualifiers, but the Eagles struggled and were all over the place with the players not understanding what is their role. They struggled to put one or two passes together. However it was a different scenario when Rohr decided to switch to a 3-4-3 formation in the second half and made some personnel changes which saw Ogu slotting in as part of a three man defence, allowing Tyron and Idowu to operate as wingbacks. This change in tactics saw a massive improvement in our game. However it should be recalled that the 3-4-3 formation was the one Rohr employed against the Argentines in the November friendly which saw the team struggled badly before Rohr decided to tweak things again in the second half. Rohr hasn’t decided which formation suited best to the Nigerian team so it’s important he finds a solution to the problem before the first game against Croatia.
Left Back Position still a problem: Ever since Celestine Babayaro retired, the left back position has been a problem for the Super Eagles. Currently Elderson Echiejile has been a mainstay in that position for sometime not because he has been top class but because there have been lack of options. Recently Bryan Idowu was brought in to come and challenge for that spot but it’s important to state that he’s not a natural. He was deployed in the position against the English and you could say he did well in that game especially for someone who is not a natural. However going into the World cup it’ll be a different ball game entirely and Rohr will have to make a decision whether to stick with Idowu who looks locked on for that spot or go with the only Natural left back we have. Nevertheless, going into the future Rohr will have to find a solution.
Oyinbo Wall Struggle: The duo of Ekong and Balogun have been a rock steady pairing in defence since they started playing together. They were part of the defence that conceded just four goals in the qualifiers and for the first time in a long time we have two proper centre backs. However in recent games against the English and Czechs they’ve struggled. They’ve also struggled in games against pacey forwards and this is a big concern going into the World Cup where they’ll face World class forwards and it’s important Rohr work on those lapses particularly how they defend against teams who have fast forwards.
Find the perfect midfield balance: For every last three winners of the World cup, the foundation of their success were their midfielders. For Germany the trio of Kroos,Kehdira and Bastian were the perfect combination, while for Spain it was also the same with Alonso, Xavi and Iniesta combining perfectly, also for Italy Pirlo, Gattuso and Totti also combined perfectly well on their way to victory in 2006. Therefore it’s important that Rohr needs to find a perfect midfield combination if he wants the Super Eagles to go far. In game against the three Lions he started with the trio of Mikel, Joel Obi and Onazi who all struggled. Rohr will have to decide who will be the third midfield pairing between Ogu, Etebo and Onazi. The duo of Ogu and Etebo impressed when they came in against England. Mikel and Wilfred Ndid looks likely to get the first two spots so it’s important Rohr gets the third one right to strike the right balance.
Slow Start: In all the friendly games the Super Eagles have played they have started slowly and looked off pace, though in those games also they improved greatly in the second half. Nevertheless this is something this is something the Eagles can’t afford to do at the World Cup against World class players or else they’ll be punished for it. Therefore it is paramount the Eagles start well in their games and make sure they are not chasing a game because it may be too late by that time.