Blessed with the talents of Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Leon Balogun, among others, the national team does not lack quality defenders, but more has to be done to get the best out of them, says a one-time Premier League defender
Former Nigeria international, Samuel Sodje has charged the coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, to assign a defensive coach to the defenders in the team as that would aid them to play as a unit.
The Super Eagles defenders showed the team had immense defensive potential when they conceded just once in a friendly tie against five-time world champions Brazil in October last year.
But a closer look at the team’s defensive record shows that much work still needs to be done in that department.
The Super Eagles let in seven goals in just seven matches at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt, to see their hunt for a fourth continental trophy halted at the semifinal stage.
By contrast, eventual winners Algeria shipped only two goals in the seven games they played at the tournament. A good defence is needed to win championships.
Glaring lapses remain even since the end of the AFCON as Rohr’s team is yet to keep a clean sheet in any of their last four games.
Sodje, a former Reading and Charlton Athletic defender, is convinced that the solution to the team’s problems lies in the hands of a defensive coach.
“I’ve always said it before now that you can have ten defenders, but if they’re not trained to defend as a unit, you will always concede goals,” Super Sam told the Premium Times.
“I have played the game and understand what defending is always about. We have a group of talented individuals in our defence, but it’s different when you come to the national team, but once the coach didn’t train them to defend as a unit, we will always struggle.
“It’s high time we have a defensive coach in that team.”
Sodje’s comments come despite the decision of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to appoint former Marseille and Everton defender, Joseph Yobo, as Rohr’s assistant coach.