2022 WCQ

Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen and Super Eagles stars with a point to prove in the must-win clash against Ghana

The three-time African champions will need some of their big names to step up when the Black Stars come into town.

Ademola Lookman will be looking to impress in front of the home fans

Expectations were high when Nigeria took to the pitch on Friday night to take on their West African rivals Ghana in the first leg of their 2022 World Cup playoff clash.

However, the tie turned out to be a disappointment as neither team could find the breakthrough, with the match finishing goalless.

For Nigeria, it was a disappointing performance from the team despite the array of talents they displayed at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.

A large portion of the blame should be directed at Austin Eguavoen, who once again showed his limited tactical acumen.

The 56-year-old failed to learn from his mistakes at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

However, while Eguavoen deserved criticism, most of the players also failed to come to the party on Friday night.

But the good news for both Eguavoen and these players is that they have the advantage now as they are at home in the second leg.

And with a place at the World Cup in Qatar on the line, the stakes have never been higher.

As a result, the Super Eagles will need some of their players to give the performance of their lives.

With that stated, we take a look at the Nigerian players with a point to prove when they take on Ghana at the Moshood Abiola Stadium on Tuesday.

Lookman finally made his debut for the three-time African champions after switching his international allegiance from England.

The 24-year-old came on in the 74th-minute for Moses Simon in the first leg but failed to have an impact on the game.

Not his fault, though. But it did look like he was trying to play to the occasion.

The pitch also did not help his cause, losing possession six times.

Nonetheless, Lookman has the opportunity to go again on Tuesday, but this time, in front of the home crowd.

Although it is unfair to ask too much from a player who just made his debut, Lookman could earn his place in the hearts of many Nigerians with a great performance.

Lookman could start the game, especially with Samuel Chukwueze's place in doubt.

The Villarreal winger picked up a knock in the first leg, while he has not shown he deserves to start with his performance in recent games.

This allows Lookman to show that he can be Nigeria's leading man, especially from the flanks.

Again, it was not the best of performances from Aribo. However, it was not his fault.

The 25-year-old was played in a double-pivot midfield pairing with Bonke Innocent- Wilfred Ndidi's replacement.

Aribo partnered Ndidi in the same role at the AFCON, but it was obvious Eguavoen was trying to fit a square peg in a round role as it's not Aribo's best position.

Eguavoen tries to fit Aribo in the role to accommodate Kelechi Iheanacho in the number ten position.

But the performance on Friday night and at the AFCON once again showed that Iheanacho is not a number ten, and that could see Aribo play in that position on Tuesday.

Aribo gets into scoring positions, and playing in the hole behind the forward line will help his cause.

Should he get to play in a more advanced role on Tuesday, Aribo needs a solid showing to make the position his own.

Uzoho was in goal in the absence of Maduka Okoye in the first leg, and he did not put a foot wrong.

Although he was not tested too much, Uzoho still did well on a couple of occasions Ghana got close to scoring.

Uzoho was unlucky to lose the number one spot to Okoye after picking up a knee injury.

But with Okoye currently under pressure and out of the game, another brilliant display on Tuesday could swing the momentum back in Uzoho's favour.

Dennis was not part of the Nigerian squad at the AFCON, but there were suggestions that Nigeria would have performed better if he was in the team.

The Watford star did make his return to the team on Friday night, coming on as a substitute for Chukwueze.

But just like the man he replaced, Dennis did not have any effect on the game.

The 24-year-old, however, has the chance to convince fans he is the real deal, considering he is yet to have a great game in the Super Eagles shirt.

Dennis has been one of Nigeria's best strikers in Europe this season, with nine goals and five assists in 27 Premier League games for Watford.

He now needs to replicate the same form for Nigeria.

Osimhen is Nigeria's best striker, but he was anonymous on Friday night.

Although it was not his fault as he was denied quality services, his overall performance was not convincing.

He managed just 17 touches in the entire game, while he also completed just one pass.

Osimhen has scored 11 goals in 20 league games for Napoli this season, while he has ten goals in 18 games for Nigeria.

But for all of his impressive goal scoring record, he is yet to show his quality in a big game.

Since joining Napoli, he has scored just one goal against the seven sisters. The same also applies in his games for Nigeria, with Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Liberia among some of his victims.

He has already shown he is a good striker, but to become a great player, he needs to start performing in big games.

And there's no better game to start than the one on Tuesday evening at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja.

The Super Eagles need an outright win against Ghana to book their spot in Qatar, but they will need Osimhen and some of these players to rise to the occasion on Tuesday evening.

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