Nigeria’s Super Eagles over the weekend qualified for their 6th world cup finals after a hard fought 1-0 victory over Zambia in Uyo
In a keenly contested game the Nigerians fought bravely till an Alex Iwobi goal helped break the deadlock and send Nigerian fans into fits of excitement
However while qualification may have been secured there are still a number of biting questions that need to be asked before we proceed to the Mundial proper
Soccer Assembly looks at 7 key questions
1. Is This Team Really Ready For Russia
We have won and we have qualified, but while our topping our group and raking up an unassailable 13 pts is impressive our journey to success was far from perfect! And the then of course there was that scandalous loss at home to South Africa
The team is decent no doubt but and there remains a but . . . is it good enough to take on the quality that will be on parade at the world cup in Russia ?
2. So What Players Will Add Quality To The Team
Now that we have qualified there is an obvious need to strengthen the team no doubt, but which players if added will bring genuine quality to an already decent team? Names have been flouted back and forth from Sarenren Bazee to Henry Onyekuru to Tammy Abraham to rave of the moment Dennis Bonaventure, who will crash the Russia 2018 party
3. How Did Ola Aina Fare In His 10 Minutes On The Pitch
An Injury to Elderson Echijiele gave Nigerians what they had hoped to see: Ola Aina in action as the Hull city loanee from Chelsea came on for the last 10 minutes of the game for his competitive debut
In those 10 minutes he showed a weakness once when he was caught up front having gone in search of goal while Zambia came close to equalizing but also gave hope showing his searing pace and attacking impetus when he raced forward and almost created a goal with Victor Moses! Aina is a delightful prospect no doubt but more will need to be seen
4. Who Leads The Line For The Eagles
For a while Kelechi Iheanacho fresh from being rated the most prolific striker in England led the line for the Super Eagles fallowing Odion Ighalos fall from grace at Watford. For a while too iheanacho proved his deadliness in front of goal threatening to break records set by more known predecessors, however less game time, a move to Leicester plus “that South Africa game” and Iheanacho was promptly dropped replaced with Odion Ighalo who seemed to justify the decision with an epic performance against Cameroon.
However against Zambia while he still had a presence up front once again the not too clinical Ighalo showed up missing chances one would expect an Iheanacho to bury
So just who leads the line for the Eagles going to Russia ?
5. Just How Technically Adept Is Gernot Rohr
Lets not mince words . . . .the Super Eagles struggled against the Zambians and fought extremely hard to get their result also benefiting from a little bit of luck.
Yet Super eagles Coach Gernot Rohr gets the plaudits and credit for the victory as his substitution of Alex Iwobi made the difference
But was that a master stroke or just a stroke of luck?
We seemed to have no answer to the Pacey Zambians and Rohr didn’t seem to have any tactics to counter this obvious advantage. The Introduction of Iwobi for Simon was more of a like for like substitution more than a technically inspired one . . .same with all his substitutions. Will he be adept to handle the tough coaching strategies he encounters in Russia?
6. Whats The Deal With Mikel Agu
The Bursaspor of Turkey player seems to be a favorite of Super Eagles German coach Gernot Rohr and has come on as a sub in our last 3 games mostly in place of Mikel Obi or Ogneyi Onazi as a midfield enforcer. Yet he has struggled to win the passionate Nigerian faithful over with his performances with many feeling he is not ready for this stage and Israeli based John Ogu would be a better option.
Yet Agu continues to get the nod from Rohr. He was roundly criticized in the game against Zambia especially where he seemed to be picking up needless fouls and risked being sent off.
Is Rohr seeing something everyone else is not?
7. Are We Now Covered At Right Back With The New Improved Shehu Abdullahi
Slowly but surely the Anorthosis Famagusta of Cypriot player Shehu Abdullahi has progressed from a stop gap measure at right back for the Super Eagles to a 1st choice player such that the likes of Tyronne Ebuehi might sadly soon be surplus to requirements
He was so good against Zambia that he beat fan favorite and goal scorer Alex iwobi to the man of the match award showing he has progressed in leaps and bounds since his bronze medal winning Olympics adventure
The right back slot of the eagles had for so long been a cause for concern. Is it safe to say that concern is now over ?