The Super Eagles suffered a third friendly game loss under Portuguese coach, Jose Peseiro
Poor officiating, tactical flatness and average display- there are many factors to point fingers at for being responsible for the Super Eagles’ loss against Algeria in Oran.
The Algerians came back from behind to defeat Nigeria and scapegoats have been made of the referee and goalkeeper Francis Uzoho especially.
The defeat sparks different reactions amongst the Nigerian fan base. While some people held positives, others didn’t see much delight in what transpired during the game.
Soccernet made 5 observations from the game and they may be new or exactly tell what you feel also. The observations are;
1. Alex Iwobi is currently peerless for Nigeria
The Everton midfielder is on a level that allows him talk. He knows he’s in the best form of his entire career so far. His social media presence has improved as a result and his interaction has shot up. In terms of his football, Iwobi has so far proven under Peseiro that nobody comes close to his level at the moment.
In Oran, he was never shy to receive the ball under pressure and played some passes out of dangerous situations that’d be a dream for many Nigerian midfielders.
While the more rugged and rash Onyeka laboured to match the Algerian midfield for pace, Iwobi provided a creative cushion which helped the team advance quickly. Currently, he’s a level above what he has ever shown in a Nigerian shirt and what’s left is for Peseiro to make even more of it.
2. Peseiro’s system is easily exposed against quality opposition
In the Super Eagles’ 2-1 victory against Sierra Leone in Abuja at the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, Peseiro showed he could be adaptive when necessary.
In the game, he changed from a 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 to the better accommodating 4-3-3. The game improved and the Super Eagles rightly emerged victorious.
Against Algeria, similar to what was seen against Mexico and Ecuador, the Super Eagles looked dangerous on the attack, and the midfield was almost a passage way for the opposition. It’s a system that encourages attacking football, but pays no attention to the struggles of the midfield two.
Any team with a semblance of decency and have enough runners in their midfield will cause the Super Eagles problems. It’s a system that has its perks but also greatly leaves many loopholes to be filled.
3. The Super Eagles have a goalkeeping emergency
Both currently 23, Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho have been behind major howlers in the last seven months. One partly ensured the Super Eagles got eliminated at the second round of the AFCON and the other in part, was the reason the Super Eagles struggled to get a grade A friendly – not playing at the World Cup.
Against the Algeria B and A teams, both goalkeepers were in the middle again and they produced another round of far-from-convincing goalkeeping.
Uzoho and Okoye are young and have good years ahead of them if they stay active. The Super Eagles can plan around them as seen in what the coaches have tried to do. Subsequent Super Eagles coaches have considered them the best two goalkeepers the country has with a third slot hovering round the lesser-known foreign-based goalkeepers and the home-based professionals.
The Super Eagles have tested everyone since 2018 and not much has changed. It must be a recurring headache for the coaching staff of the team. A case has been made for Adebayo Adeleye but two coaches have invited him now and don’t consider him good enough to usurp their preferences.
There are many goalkeepers who can represent Nigeria but not much can be said of what they can offer. In the case of an emergency as we have now, the experimentation must continue.
4. Injuries have limited Peseiro
A honest look into the options available for Peseiro against Algeria doesn’t offer much in terms of prospects.
At least three of the players who featured in the 10-0 demolition of São Tomé and Principé were missing against Algeria due to different degrees of injuries.
This has so far limited his experimentation but he has seen his best pair of attackers.
Having played a combination of Moffi-Dessers, Osimhen-Sadiq, and Iheanacho-Moffi, Peseiro must have realised his favoured frontline pair, however, injuries have continued to limit his experimentation.
His favoured central defensive pairing have also so far hovered. Ekong-Ajayi, Bassey-Ajayi, and Bassey-Akpoguma have featured so far but none of the pairings has been particularly watertight.
What has been so far clear is that Bassey has come to stay in the Super Eagles and his best partner is who’s being sought.
5. No cause for alarm yet
Three losses recorded and a record that’s leaning towards destruction than control, yet Peseiro has barely looked like a man that’s out of his depths.
Despite the Super Eagles’ loss against Algeria, there were instances that offered direction in terms of display.
When a full complement of players are available and his tactics can be maximally utilised, there’ll be more than enough reasons to judge his outputs should results stay the same.
Peseiro, however, must beware of the coming months. Excuses thin out fast with every defeat.