The Super Eagles may have picked up a big Nations Cup qualifying victory, but there’s room for improvement
A Victor Moses brace and John Obi Mikel’s effort helped the Super Eagles past Algeria on Saturday, as Gernot Rohr’s work on the touchline continues to bear fruit despite an Algeria onslaught.
The German tactician is slowly building his reputation as a manager whose long-term and mid-term—securing a Russia 2018 ticket—aspirations are fuelled by short-term pragmatism. He has done well to always tackle matches on a game-by-game basis, and, to date, it’s an approach that’s working well.
Setting up a team to nullify their opposition’s threat is a tricky process, as a manager must be very careful to avoid negating his side’s strength. Rohr has always been aware of this and, to date, has set up his teams effectively.
Even without El Arabi Hillel Soudani, the top scorer during 2017 Nations Cup qualification, Ryad Boudebouz and Rachid Ghezzal, the Algerians have some of Africa’s best attacking options.
Naturally, Nigeria’s defence isn’t one of the continent’s best at the moment, but the manager’s job is to strike a balance between his side’s strengths and weaknesses.
Rohr’s decision to move Iheanacho to the centre-forward position to accommodate a more hardworking midfielder in Oghenekaro Etebo did help Ogenyi Onazi and Mikel to silence the Greens’ trio of Saphir Taider, Nabil Bentaleb and Carl Medjani, especially in the first half, but he was lucky to get away with playing Kenneth Omeruo at right-back.
After Omeruo’s miserable showing in Ndola, it was never going to be easy coming up against Yacine Brahimi, one of the most mesmerising dribblers in the continent, but Rohr does deserve credit for liberating Moses from his defensive duties…he was well rewarded there!
Faouzi Ghoulam did his best to curtail Moses on one flank, but when the Chelsea man swapped with Alex Iwobi, it was always going to be complicated for Mohammed Ziti to get the better of his man.
Moses has improved significantly and it was his effectiveness in front of goal that lessened the pressure on the backline during the dying moments of the match.