The debate will continue to linger, but Soccernet have facts that are good enough to clear any misconceptions
The Super Eagles of Nigeria is blessed with some of the most talented legs on the continentand even the world. In fact, this particular crop of stars is the most talented in a long while. Bar mismanagement, or shenanigans at the administration level, the Super Eagles have enough quality to rule Africa and rattle some of the big boys at the World Cup.
While we cannot boast of world-class defenders or shot-stoppers, our midfield, especially in the central and defensive midfield role, is fully covered by the likes of Ndidi and Aribo. And when push comes to shove, Innocent Bonke could be entrusted with the job.
Nonetheless, the bone of contention in this subject is the abundance of attacking quality inherent in the Super Eagles when juxtaposed with other African countries.
Super Eagles vs Others
Nigeria is home to some of the best attackers in Africa. Paul Onuachu, Emmanuel Dennis, Kelechi Iheanacho, Anthony Nwakaeme, Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Chidera Ejuke, Sadiq Umar, Taiwo Awoniyi, Odion Ighalo, and of course Victor Osimhen, who is one of the hottest poachers in Europe.
This is no disservice to other teams on the continent. Cameroon has Aboubakar, Toko Ekambi, Christian Bassogog, Clinton N’jie, and Choupo-Moting.
Algeria also boasts of attacking talents like Riyadh Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi, Adam Ounas, Said Benrahma, Younes Bounedjah, and Yousef Belaili.
Algeria’s North African neighbours Egypt have Mohammed Salah, Omar Marmoush, Ramadan Sobhi, Trezeguet, and Zizo.
Ivory Coast is not short of talents either, as they have Nicolas Pepe, Sebastian Haller, Wilfred Zaha, Jeremi Boga, Maximilian Cornet, and Max Gradel.
And not forgetting African Champions Senegal, who have a loaded attack with Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr, Habib Diallo, Bamba Dieng, Keita Balde, and Boulaye Dia.
At the last Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria showed glimpses of what they could offer, and if not for tactical ineptitude, they showed their prowess, winning all of their group games, creating a lot of chances in the process even in the absence of Osimhen and Dennis.
Also, with great respect to Salah and Mane, who are unarguably two of the biggest stars on the continent, they hardly have any support at the international level.
In Egypt, asides from Salah, their biggest European exports are Marmoush and Trezeguet, and this season, the duo have eleven goal involvements to their name. Senegal are better, as they can boast of Ismaila Sarr as the next big player after Mane. But, Sarr himself has been overshadowed by Nigeria’s Dennis at Watford, and the Super Eagles star has proven to be more important in just his first season.
Senegalese star Keita Balde is also having a rollercoaster season, with just five-goal involvements in 16 appearances.
In Ivory Coast, Sebastian Haller has picked up the pieces of his career after he flopped at West Ham. The 27-year-old has been phenomenal for Ajax, with a whopping 39 goal contributions this season.
Asides from Haller, the Elephants also have the services of Zaha, who has been the main man at Crystal Palace in recent years. The Manchester United flop is one of the best dribblers in Africa, but his naivety sometimes gets the better of him. Nonetheless, his quality is never in question.
But without the duo, Ivory Coast do not have the quality that could fit in when the chips are down. Max Gradel has been decent in the Turkish Super Lig, but with Pepe, Boga, and Cornet as the other backups, a coach with a winning mentality could struggle.
Algeria does not seem to have a case in the matter because, asides from Mahrez, Benrahma, and Feghouli, the rest are lightweights.
The Lesser Known Statistics
A typical forward three for the Super Eagles would be Simon, Osimhen, and Dennis. They are all at the top of their game in top European leagues. But even in their absence, Belgium’s best player Onuachu could fit in, or even Awoniyi who has 19 goal involvements this season in 33 games could fill the void comfortably.
In the Premier League, only two players rank higher than Dennis in completed dribbles. He has more dribbles than Mahrez, Salah, Mane, and even Zaha.
Onuachu’s 33-goal haul last season was the first time in over 20 years that a player scored that amount of goals in a single season. Also, he was the first African forward to win the golden shoe award.
Spectacularly, this season, despite being slowed down by injuries, Onuachu has still produced 16 strikes in 26 appearances. He is one of the deadliest in aerial positions.
As of November last year, Ejuke was the third-best dribbler in Europe. But even with his brilliance, he struggles to get into the team.
Nevertheless, the quality inherent in the side is not the question. The services of a good coaching crew is of utmost necessity.