The Super Eagles of Nigeria put up a brilliant performance in their African Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya as they moved up to the second position in the group with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over the Mediterranean Knights.
A hattrick by Odion Ighalo and a goal from Bordeaux striker Samuel Kalu secured victory for the Nigerians ahead of the return leg, on Tuesday, in Tunis. The super eagles went into the match knowing that anything less than the three maximum points will put their hopes hanging in the balance.
However, they put all those fears to rest with a convincing performance which is why we will be taking a look at the five things we learned from the match.
1. Iwobi can be Eagles creative midfielder:
Ever since Jay-Jay Ockocha retired, the Super Eagles have struggled to find another player to replace him with players like Rabiu Ibrahim, Haruna Lukman all failing the audition. Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has been the only one who has handled this responsibility but he hasn’t been totally convincing either. In Mikel’s absence, Alex Iwobi trialled for this role. He was lively especially in the second half and produced that defence-splitting pass that set-up Odion Ighalo for the second goal. Earlier, he had similarly set-up left back Jamilu Collins with a glorious through ball which the defender hit the upright. Rohr can only hope he keeps improving in this role.
2. Etebo should always start:
The Stoke City man has always been a brilliant player but he really underlined his importance during the build-up to the World Cup. He carried the form into the World Cup and was one of the shining lights in what was a disappointing tournament for Nigeria. With the performance in Russia, one would have expect he has cemented his place in Rohr’s line up but to the shock of many the out-of-sorts Onazi was preferred to him in the win over Seychelles. Against Libya, he came in place of the former Lazio man and he gave another brilliant performance with his work rate. This latest performance should be able to convince Rohr he should be starting over Onazi in future games.
3. Competition has brought out the best in Ighalo:
Many people still blame the former Watford man for his sub-par performance at the world cup and to be honest, it was deserved. The China-based striker has enjoyed the luxury of no competition for his place so that could be pinned to his average performances over the years. However, it looks like the invitation of Isaac Success and Onyekuru has brought Ighalo back to life as he was full confidence in the match scoring three well-taken goals. Gernot Rohr will hope this is not just a flash in the pan though.
4. The Left back problem looks to be over:
Since Celestine Babayaro retired, the left back spot has been a problem for Nigeria. Elderson Echiejile held down the spot for a long time but lost his Place to Bryan Idowu and Tyronne Ebuhehi at the world cup. Sadly, these two are not a natural left back. However, with the emergence of Jamiu Collins Nigeria may have just solved its problems at left-back with a more natural player. He didn’t put a foot wrong in the match as he was good defensively while he was also brilliant going forward.
5. Rohr still doesn’t know his best formation:
Two years into Rohr’s tenure with the Super Eagles he still doesn’t know his best formation. The former Auxerre man has tried a series of formation ranging from 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and 3-4-3. He used the 3-4-3 in two of the games at the world cup and it seems to work as the super eagles won against Iceland and gave a spirited performance against Argentina. However, he reverted back to 4-3-3 in the game against Libya. Though the super eagles may have won convincingly, it is time Rohr makes a final decision on his best formation.