In the wake of a lackluster performance from the Senior National team of Nigeria, the Super Eagles, as they lost to their Congolese counterpart in Vise (Belgium) on Thursday, many questions have been raised, both at home and in the media.
The Super Eagles were not at their best and lost to two first half goals from Dieumerci Mbokani in the 7th minute and Jordan Nkololo in the 31st minute to the DR Congo. With these poor performance of the team (the fans) are not happy and are expecting a better outing in the next game.
As we get closer to the next game for the Super Eagles which is against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, a really daunting task indeed which looks like a mirage in accomplishment. Although the Eagles are capable of picking themselves up and certainly have the quality and pedigree to do so but the players have to step up to the challenge.
We take a look at five players who must rise to the occasion so that the Eagles can soar above their opponents Cameroon.
After a wonderful and man of the match debut performance against Tanzania and an undisputed clean sheet in his second game between the sticks for Nigeria against Niger Republic in Port Harcourt last month, the enterprising goal tender conceded a pair of goals against the East Africans, the Democratic Republic of Congo before the intermission as the Super Eagles of Nigeria lost 2-0 in Vise to the Congolese. Questions have been raised about the ability of the Wolves shot stopper in covering in between the sticks for Nigeria as we intensify preparation for the Cameroon friendly Ikeme has won admirers over the first two games but two goals conceded against the Congolese have left more to be desired of the fair skinned goalkeeper.
The lions of Cameroon is certainly a top side and the goaltender must be on his guard if Nigeria are to escape another menacing defeat. He certainly have the class and ability to turn things around in Nigeria’s favour and will be expectedly banked upon by Coach Sunday Oliseh to keep the Cameroonian players at bay in front of goal.
JOHN OBI MIKEL
The Chelsea veteran who was returning to the National team after an almost a year international exile was in sublime form in the Congo friendly and showed class and dexterity on the ball. The talented midfielder showed what he can do and why he plays for a top side like the English Champions Chelsea. The player have often been criticized in the media especially as expectations are way too high on him.
Some section of fans at his club Chelsea bemoans the midfielder as a player who lacks creativity on the ball and back home some said that Mikel needs to take a break from the National team due to his poor performance of late with reference to the World Cup in Brazil, but after a wonderful performance from the lanky midfielder, he has done enough to silence his critics and earn the praise of the Super Eagles gaffer Sunday Oliseh. He has the charisma to chart a new course in midfield for Nigeria and must rise up to the occasion as the Eagles need a talisman in the middle of the park against the Indomitable Lions. Mikel certainly must lead the charge against Cameroon if we are to control and dictate the pace of the game.
The Nigerian forward who plies his trade in UAE Club with Al Ain is an integral member of the Super Eagles despite leaving Europe to continue his football career in Asia. The Super Eagles front man has won a place in the squad which is an evidence of his relevance to the team. Emmanuel Emenike has not contributed a goal to the National team since his brace against Ethiopia in Antananarivo in 2013 which is already two years but still the striker has something to offer to the Eagles frontline. Emenike offers the team guile and power going forward. His physical nature and style of play make him a handful for opposing defenders and idle against African oppositions especially against Cameroon who are known for their physicality.
The forward strength and bullish style will be needed against arch-rival Cameroon who are known to be Nigeria’s nightmare in the past as we lost crucial games against them in the 80s and 90s. Emenike though is a quality and experience player and Nigeria will be needing his quality and power dynamics in attack as we guard ourselves to a gradual redemption.
Odion Ighalo’s stocks has risen in recent times due to tis rich vein of form in arguably the toughest league in the World, the English Premier league. The young lad who showed quality and purpose as he beat English highly rated and want away defender John Stones to mark his Premier league debut with a goal. He is a top quality player and Nigeria should be proud of having him in their squad. The young forward has 5 goals already in the 8 weeks round of matches in the league and barring injuries looks set to add more to his tally this season for newly promoter side Watford. The Nigerian who was part of the U-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009 have a goal for the National team(a penalty in the 2-0 win over Chad in Kaduna) but Nigerians will be expecting him to transfer Club(goal scoring)form to the national side.
The camp distraction might have affected the team against DR Congo but in the Cameroon game Ighalo will have it all to do for Nigeria in attack in search of goals for the team. He is a player who can be relied upon as seen at club level but Nigerians can’t wait to see Ighalo pull his country Nigeria from its recent doldrums with a goal against the Indomitable Lions.
Ahmed Musa for the past couple of years have been Nigeria most consistent performer especially at Club level for CSKA Moscow. The young winger have been earned himself a priceless rewarded for that sort of consistency. As they say many are called but few are chosen, Musa fits into that regard as the forward has been chosen as the new Captain of the Super Eagles despite the presence of senior players like John Obi Mikel, Emmanuel Emenike and Elderson Echiejile. Musa has scored two goals with the Captain armband, one a beauty of a goal against South Africa in Nelspruit and the other a penalty against Niger Republic in Port Harcourt. For the game against Cameroon goals will be expected from the Nigerian new Captain as he set out to lead the Eagles attack.
His pace and direct runs will be massive to unsettle the Lions defence if Nigeria are to come out with a positive result. The striker eye for goals are awesome and his ability to escape from his marker goes a lot to show his acceleration rate which will be key for the game. Finally, the big question is can Ahmed Musa(Nigerian Neymar) deliver like latter does for Brazil with the Captain armband against Cameroon, that can only be answered when the Eagles file out against their arch-rival.
Obiweluozo Martins for SoccerNet Nigeria