5 things we learnt from Super Eagles morale-boosting win
The Super Eagles of Nigeria saw of Iceland with two brilliant goals by Ahmed Musa on Friday.
Two second-half goals by Ahmed Musagave Nigeria their first winof 2018 FIFA World Cup and a chance of getting to the round of 16.
These are five things we learnt from the game.
1. Three-man defence best for Super Eagles
Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr first used the three-man defence system with the Super Eagles in November and it led to a 4-2 win over Argentina in a brilliant second-half display.
Befuddling, he never used this set-up until the second half of the 2-1 loss to England in one of the Super Eagles warm-up games ahead of the World Cup.
It should be noted that the three-man defence system has always worked for the Super Eagles, making it even more shocking that he completely stayed away from it in the 2-0 loss to Croatia.
Against Iceland, he sacrificed a forward and included Kenneth Omeruo in the defence to join the Oyinbo-wall and then what followed was Nigeria’s best display of 2018.
2. Kenneth Omeruo resurgence
When Omeruo signed for Chelsea in 2012, he was tipped to be the future of the Super Eagles. Under a year, he was on his way to being a legend, playing a crucial role in Nigeria’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title win.
He played all the games for the Super Eagles at the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
However, a lack of consistency caused by his nomadic club career-while still a Chelsea player, with Omeruo playing for different clubs every season from 2012 to 2017) and a loss of form coupled with the emergence of the Oyibo Wall partnership of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong means he has not been a crucial player in the national team set-up.
But a rare start against Iceland showed why he remains one of Super Eagles best defenders. He dominated in the air, distributed the ball well from the back and the numbers behind his performance on the night are ridiculous.
100% tackles won, 63 touches, 50 passes, six aerial duels won, five clearances, three interceptions, two chances created, two fouls won and one assist.
3. Rohr listens
Gernot Rohr for the first time as Super Eagles boss was on the end of intense criticism following the 2-0 loss to Croatia.
The main cause of criticism was the position of John Mikel Obi who offered nothing as a No 10 against Croatia.
Although he was bullish with his decision at pre-match press conferences, Rohr listened to the criticisms and made amends
Mikel played deeper, Odion Ighalo was dropped and Victor Moses played as a right-wing back.
4. Musa has been underappreciated
Ahmed Musa has always been a loyal servant of the Super Eagles. Either on the pitch or on the bench, Musa has always been ready to do what it takes for national glory.
Musa has however never been highly rated by Nigerians who are very quick to point out his flaws. While his final balls need massive improvement, Musa’s pace and potency in front of goal makes him indispensable in the Super Eagles right now.
A brace to continue from where he stopped at 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Musa is now Nigeria’s highest goalscorer at the World Cup.
Put some respect on his name.
5. Strong midfield
Rohr yielding to criticism on Mikel's best position has led the Super Eagles to have one of the best midfields at the World Cup.
The top tackling abilities of Wilfred Ndidi, the experience of Mikel Obi and the vitality of Oghenekaro Etebo proved to be top notch in the game against Iceland.
Aside Mikel Obi who wasn’t impressive against Croatia, Ndidi and Etebo played their part. But with Mikel sitting deeper, the midfield was almost perfect.
Although the midfield trio lack the creativity to trouble defences, they have the right mix of energy and skills to help keep possession.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: