The Super Eagles of Nigeria were held to a goalless draw in the first leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers away at Ghana in what was a largely uninspiring performance.
5 tactical mistakes Eguavoen cannot afford to repeat in the second Jollof Derby
Five tactical errors from the first leg against Ghana which Nigeria must correct if they hope to qualify for Qatar 2022.
And now with the decisive second leg on the horizon, here are some of the mistakes from the first game that head coach Augustine Eguavoen has to correct on Tuesday if Nigeria hopes to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.
Break up the ‘Oyinbo Wall’
The Super Eagles started the first game in Kumasi with the centre-back pairing of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong, famously referred to as the ‘Oyinbo Wall’.
And while they did technically achieve their aim and kept a clean sheet, the defensive pairing did not look as solid as it used to be some years ago.
Kenneth Omeruo is arguably Nigeria’s best centre-back on his day and should get a chance in the team for the second leg against Ghana which would most likely mean either one of Troost-Ekong or Balogun drops to the bench.
Troost-Ekong is the Super Eagles’ on-pitch captain (thanks to Ahmed Musa’s inability to make it into the team) and that should be enough to help him retain his starting berth.
This means Balogun will most likely be the casualty of Omeruo’s introduction even though he had a good second half in Kumasi.
Take Aribo out of the double pivot
Joe Aribo has seven goals and eight assists this season for Rangers where he plays mostly as a number 10 and occasionally as a central midfielder with a license to roam.
This makes it very confusing that coach Augustine Eguavoen continues to play Aribo in a double pivot as one of two defensive midfielders for the Super Eagles.
Playing Aribo out of position to accommodate Kelechi Iheanacho who is also playing out of position in the number 10 role renders both players inefficient.
Eguavoen must decide between one of them for the second leg, it has become clear that the Super Eagles lineup cannot efficiently accommodate them both.
Innocent Bonke is not fit to replace Ndidi
Innocent Bonke is a useful midfield player going by his own qualities which include energy and ball-winning but he pales in comparison to Wilfried Ndidi which is why he stunk up the Baba Yara Stadium on Friday.
It might be time to stop trying to replace Ndidi and just play the best midfield system suitable to the players available.
A midfield trio with Frank Onyeka and Oghenekaro Etebo as the double pivot and Joe Aribo as an attacking midfielder provides the right amount of offensive and defensive balance Nigeria needs to win the midfield battle.
Stop isolating Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen had a poor game in the first leg with just 17 touches the whole game and completing just one out of four attempted passes in 90 minutes of football.
But that was because he spent the whole game on an island, completely isolated as the defence aimlessly lumped balls into the air for him to chase down.
The tactic was obviously ineffective and proved to be a waste of Osimhen’s qualities which is why Eguavoen must strive to surround the striker with bodies.
Either by playing a 4-4-2 or maintaining the same 4-2-1-3 formation but with the attacking midfielder given licence to roam into the box freely and the wingers squeezing in like inside forwards.
That way, Nigeria can surround Osimhen with options for linkup play and also create an avenue for overlapping runs from the fullbacks.
Unleash the fullbacks
Speaking of the fullbacks, they mostly stayed in their own halves for the majority of the first leg, particularly Ola Aina which may have been a direct instruction from the coach.
It could also be because the wingers played too wide and offered no space for the overlap, which still falls on the coach to correct that on Tuesday.
Calvin Bassey came off the bench in Kumasi but should start the second leg over Zaidu Sanusi because he is more adventurous and willing to overlap.