Kenneth Omeruo stars as Nigeria Super Eagles have qualified for the Round of 16 following another 1-0 victory in their second Group game against the Syli National of Guinea.
Starting in a typical Gernot Rohr 4-3-3 formation this time with Alex Iwobi in the number 10 role many believe is his rightful position, the team struggled for fluency throughout the match. A win is a win and the hope and belief is that the team will play better as the tournament progresses.
This is how we rate the team
GK: Daniel Akpeyi: Had one scary moment when he chose to parry a shot instead gathering into his midriff but that was about it. Towards the end of the match he did come out bravely to punch a cross as Guinea searched for an equaliser. 6/10
Chidozie Awaziem: Defensively solid as were the rest of the back line in truth. He could have used the ball better during build up of play but the team’s shape which is dictated by tactics does hamper the defenders when trying to pass out from the back. 6/10
Kenneth Omeruo: Goal scorer and our Star Man. A very commanding and assured performance even without the goal. Read the few intricate moves from Nabil Keita and skipper Traore easily to cut out route to goal. Been a while in coming for a player who was one of Nigeria’s best players during a 12 month period between 2013 and the 2014 World Cup in which the AFCON was won in South Africa. 9/10
Leon Balogun: A very quiet and competent performance by the Brighton and Hove Albion defender on his AFCON debut. Did the simple things and kept the back door shut, winning almost everything in the air. Was strange observing him not moving more with the ball to start off attacks as he does normally for the Super Eagles. 6/10
Ola Aina: Started off brightly going forward but like many got bogged down by the traffic in midfield and a lack of dynamism ahead of him. Defensively he can’t be faulted. 6/10
Oghene Etebo: Probably one of the poorest games I have seen him play for Nigeria offensively. He was very tenacious defensively and did his bit to ensure Guinea never had free runs at the defence but Etebo is at his best going the other way. His highlight must be the free kick that Kone made a meal of in the Guinea goal. 6/10
Wilfred Ndidi: Ran Omeruo close in being the Super Eagles star man. He was energetic and dominating. He was up for the challenge of playing against Diawara and Keita – bested them, easily. He was let down by his forward use of the ball but you get the feeling he will get better and better as the tournament progresses. 8/10
Alex Iwobi: Played in the no 10 role but was guilty of trying to do a bit too much. Had a great chance very early in the game when he elected to take a touch instead of hitting it first time and the chance was gone. The one thing the Arsenal player has – apart from great feet – is bravery. He did not hide and still asked for the ball to try to make things happen. He was responsible for Nigeria’s first shot on target after exchanging two passes with his mates and getting the shot off leading to the keeper making a very good save. In the second half he had another curling effort that the keeper turned away again. 6/10
Moses Simon: One of the most hardworking wide men in the game. Simon was instrumental in making sure the Guinea left side never overloaded Awaziem. His distribution from set-pieces were awful all game UNTIL the corner that led to the Omeruo winner. In the way Rohr likes to set his teams up he is perfect. 6/10
Ahmed Musa: He started very brightly and his pace never seems to be waning but like Simon on the other flank, he spent way too much time chasing his opposite full back into the Nigerian area. His pace had the Guineans on the back foot on the few occasions he ran at them. Twice in both halves he got through and into good positions in the Guinea area but his final balls could not find his mates in the box – not untypical of him. 6/10
Odion Ighalo: Had one chance when he should have tried to find Musa unmarked in the box choosing to shoot towards Kone’s near post – missing target horribly. He was well marked by Falette and Seka but that could also be because he was isolated for long periods. Ighalo is not very comfortable as the lone striker. 5/10
SUBS: Chukwueze for Iwobi – Totally ineffectual and as subs go, was a waste of a valuable shirt. That he was not sent in to play wide might have something to do with it.
Onuachu for Ighalo: Just as ineffectual as Chukwueze. His tournament is not getting better.
Kalu for Simon: He never got a kick of the ball and was far more a symbolic gesture than anything tactical.