The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been brought back to earth after a 2-0 loss to Madagascar in their last group game of the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
It was a crushing defeat that has dimmed the enthusiasm of Nigerians around the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
These are five things we learned from the game.
1. No case for Mikel Obi
Mikel Obi returned to the starting XI as Gernot Rohr made five changes to the team that beat Guinea in the previous game and the Super Eagles captain could not make any case for himself.
Mikel struggled all through his stay on the pitch and offered nothing. He lacked the energy be in involved in the middle and the ability to control the game with the ball at his feet.
It will be hard to see him get any game at AFCON 2019 after that underwhelming performance.
2. Struggling to create
For the third consecutive game at AFCON 2019, the Super Eagles have struggled to create clear goalscoring chances, a problem that has persisted all year.
Against Madagascar, the Super Eagles lacked the guile and quickness to create either from the middle and from the wings. Nigeria’s only effort on target came from long distance.
3. Ighalo stifled
Odion Ighalo started his AFCON 2019 campaign with a well-taken goal in Nigeria’s first game but he has since gone quiet in the two games after that.
Against Madagascar, the striker was contained, made to play with his back to goal and with no support up front, he was frustrated on his own all through his game in the game.
4. John Ogu fails to impress
With qualification already guaranteed, Rohr made a slew of changes to his starting XI with John Ogu one of them. Ogu in a long while failed to seize the opportunity and impress. He looked out of pace in the game and could not cope with the high press from Madagascar.
This was however due to his position in the field which didn’t allow him space and time to dictate the game like he knows how to. He played in front of Oghenekaro Etebo in midfield instead of as a deep-lying playmaker where he would have had more control of the game.
5. Wake up call
The Super Eagles had been fairly comfortable in their first two games at AFCON 2019, but in Madagascar, they faced a high pressing and energetic team that caused lots of problems for them. Combined with the fact they didn’t rate Madagascar highly, the Super Eagles let their guard down and paid heavily for it.
It’s a wake-up call for them for the rest of the tournament to take every team seriously and be up for it from the first minute.