My take from the game on Saturday,
It isn’t ideal to judge a team based on its first game in a tournament of such magnitude, but three points gained against debutants isn’t such a bad thing. Not forgetting that Burundi had a very impressive run during the qualifying rounds.
Goalkeeping position is still very much an issue: one comical error and another clear blunder by Akpeyi in goal for the Eagles is a big reminder to Nigerians that the position is still very much Shaky. The gaffer’s decision to go with Akpeyi who is experienced, but also known to lose concentration during matches is one not really understood by fans all over given that Uzoho has been the man between the stick since the Worldcup.
Mikel can’t operate in the No 10 role : seeing the line up before the match, I felt the coach was rather conservative with Mikel, Etebo, and Ndidi starting. This meant Mikel had to be pushed forward and Iwobi out on the wings. This decision as seen made both Mikel and Iwobi ( whose preferred position is at CAM) rather ineffective during the match. Although this was corrected later in the match, we hope going further in this tournament, something will be done to bring out the best out of these players.
Ighalo remains our best No9: although some are yet to forgive him for his miss against Argentina at the World Cup, Odion still remains our top striker. On the back of an impressive season in the Chinese league, the striker showed his class by anticipating the wonderful back heel from Ola Aina, and also showed great composure to put it past the goalkeeper. The Eagles team is blessed with younger and hungry strikers, but in times like this, the experience of players like Ighalo comes through for the team.
Eagles need to be fluid in attack: despite having more possession during the game , the eagles lacked penetration upfront, and many times were quite predictable.
The introduction of the pacy Ahmed Musa brought more life to the attack, and his direct-run started creating spaces in a resolute Burundian defense.
Going forward in the tournament, we hope the coaches can correct some of the errors made in the first match, and help the Eagles become better as the tournament progresses.
Soar Eagles Soar
Written By – Juwon