It’s longer news that the Super Eagles failed to win any of the two games losing 1-0 to Algeria and forced to 1-1 draw by Algeria thus extending their winless streak in international friendly to six on the bounce.
Like most friendlies, the scoreline doesn’t matter as most coaches have other plans and goals to achieve with the games hence they experiment with team sheet, tactics, formation and strategy as the case may be.
According to the media officer of the team, the team is using the two friendlies to try new players that have impressed the handlers of the team over the last 12 months to lay claim to the Super Eagles starters’ shirt and as well give the coaches options as well as add the depth in the strength of the team if they can’t make the starting 11.
Truth to this position, the coach gave six players their first international cap in the two games as Zaidu Sanusi, Frank Onyeka, Kevin Akpoguma and Samson Tijani made their debut against Algeria while Cyril Desser and Chidera Ejike have their turn in the Tunisia match.
www.sportspedal.com.ng takes a look at the performance and contributions of the six players, how much of options are they bringing to the table and have they done enough to lay claim to the starters shirt?
Zaidu Sanusi is the by far the most impressive among the lot. The Porto FC left-back quickly settled into the left-back position of the team as his performances were impressive in the two games.
He is one of the bright sparks of the team, his positioning, tackle and defensive awareness are top-notch. He only needs to work on his final ball delivery. He will surely give Jamilu Collins a run for his money on the left-back position of the team.
Zaidu is surely a revelation of the two friendlies and one of the gains of the friendly games he presence in the Super Eagles will give the coaches the needed option and depth on the left-back position of the team.
Kelvin Akpoguma wasn’t part of the plan initially but his clearance by FIFA to switch allegiance from Germany to Nigeria comes early enough to be available for selection in the Algeria game as the player was in the camp for familiarity with the players.
The coach gave some minutes in the Algeria game and also start the Tunisia game. Though he was played as right back as against his preferred centre back position. The German-Nigeria didn’t do enough to match the hype that trailed his interest in Nigeria.
He failed to excite at the right-back position while he was just average as a centre back. In terms of the pecking order, he will still behind be the regulars in either the right-back or centre back position in the team.
Chidera Ejuke made the best of the few minutes he saw in the match against Tunisia. He didn’t disappoint as he showed the glimpses of what he is capable of on tbe left flank of the Super Eagles.
The CSKA Moscow forward is another player that is in contention for a starter shirt as regulars like Samuel Chukwueze, Kalu Samuel, Ahmed Musa and Moses Simon will have to guard loins and be give a more consistent top performance with the Eagles if they are not ready to lose their shirt to Ejuke as the diminutive forward is here to stay barring the loss of form or injuries.
Frank Oyenka was thrown into the thick of the action with high expectations from Nigerians, the reason for this are not far fetched. Firstly, the player has been in great form his club, Midtjylland FC. His contribution helped the club to the UEFA Champions League group stage where he will play among the best players in the world.
The second reason is that Nigerians are eager to see how the Midfield of the Super Eagles will cope without the presence of the regulars like Joe Aribo, Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi.
Frank failed woefully on his debut match against Algeria as he was passive throughout the minutes he stayed on the pitch. The midfield became the weakest link of the Super Eagles for the first time in a long while as he partnered Alex Iwobi, and Semi Ajayi in the middle of the park.
Frank couldn’t impress as a member of the trident and he also failed to register his presence as an individual on the pitch, he may have screwed his opportunity of getting another call-up as Nigerians only took solace in the fact Ndidi and the rest of the guys on the injury list will soon return.
Samson Tijani also got his first game for the Super Eagles in the match against Algeria. There is nothing much to say about the talented former Golden Eaglet captain than to wish him well as his growth and development into a great player continues.
Surely he is one of the fresh breeds for the future and the Coach has done well to contribute a part to his growth and development for giving an international football experience.
Cyril Dessers came in the second half of the match against Tunisia, the Belgian Nigerian couldn’t that right feed from the middle that could make him shine but the jury is still out on him.
Victor Osimhen will still lead the Eagles attack while Iheanacho will deputies and Cyril drags the spot on the bench with Onuachu just the way it is in their club as both players playing for the same club, Genk FC of Belgium.
With the performance of Zaidu Sanusi and Ejuduke Chidera, and by extension the reflexes and confidence of Maduka Okoye in goal Nigerians can take this as positive from the two friendlies.
The trio will add bite to the team and make competition for a shirt in the team stiffer and it will help the team overall output as the Super Eagles continue their preparation for the November doubleheader against Sierra Leone in the 2021 Africa Cup Of Nations qualifiers.