Gernot Rohr’s rebuilding continued with a friendly game against Brazil which ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday, October 13.
These are five things we learnt from the game.
1. Aribo is here to stay
If anyone thought his debut against his goal-scoring debut against Ukraine in September was a fluke, Joe Aribo delivered another performance for the Super Eagles to prove that he is the real deal.
He was very good against Brazil again with his energy and drive in midfield. Even more impressively, he showed his goal instinct with his goal after a timely run in the box to get on a pass. It is perhaps his biggest strength and what could make him indispensable in this Super Eagles teams.
While he offers so much threat on the offensive, it is on the defensive side that Aribo has not convinced. He left so many holes at the back which exposed Wilfred Ndidi. At 23 and only two games for the Super Eagles, he remains a work in progress.
2. Semi Ajayi has found his place
Semi Ajayi got into the national team on the back of a host of questions about his call up. Still playing in the lower division in England, Rohr went on to play Ajayi in midfield where he performed poorly. He was duly dropped from the squad just before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) but has since returned for the last two friendly games in central defence.
Although he struggled against Ukraine, the defender has looked better in central defence. Against Brazil, he did well to remain composed and contained their attack. He read the game well and made some important interceptions in the box.
Ajayi has also maintained a stable role in central defence at West Brom this season unlike in previous season at his former club where he also played as a midfielder. With this stability, he is growing into a better player and has found his place with the national team.
3. Uzoho keeps convincing
Francis Uzoho further reiterated his status as Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper with a strong performance against Brazil. He was impressive again like he did against Ukraine, this time especially with the reflex he showed several times.
He made two fantastic saves to stop Gabriel Jesus from scoring with his head. The second was more stirring with the way he dived to save.
Uzoho got many questioning Rohr’s decision to leave him on the bench during AFCON 2019.
4. Okoye gets his debut
From one goalkeeper to another, German-born Maduka Okoye made his debut for the Super Eagles after he came on for Uzoho in the 63rd minute. Born to a Nigerian father and a German mother, Okoye grew up in Germany but decided to commit his international allegiance to Nigeria.
We didn’t get to see what he’s made off against Brazil as he wasn't tested but he made a silly mistake of using his hands to collect a backpass which the referee missed.
5. Super Eagles come out unscathed
The Super Eagles can hold their heads high after coming out of the huge test against Brazil with their confidence unscathed. Although they were outplayed for the most part, they showed a lot of promise. Even with some important players missing, the Super Eagles still gave a good account of themselves.
However, there are still a couple of questions to be asked of Rohr’s young Super Eagles. The midfield combination still doesn’t look right and the respect they afforded Brazil in the game limited them.