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3 lessons learnt from Nigeria's woeful display against Portugal

November 17th 2022, 10:51:28 pm

Subpar Eagles remind us why theyre not at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with toothless performance against prolific Portugal

Portugal thrashed Subpar Eagles 4-0

The Super Eagles of Nigeria fell like a pack of cards in the wind against World Cup-bound Portugal in an international friendly in Lisbon.

Portugal beat Nigeria 4-0 in their final game before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and while the result was not exactly surprising, Nigeria's performance on the night was poor even by their already low standards.

Expectations for the Nigerians were already quite low pre-game but the Super Eagles found creative new ways to disappoint and here are the lessons learnt from the match.

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The general perception of Nigeria is that they're one of the best teams in Africa with a good crop of players who were just unlucky or unfortunate to not qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

AFP/AFP

However, even a non-football fan could have deduced which team is Qatar-bound and which is not by just watching the first half at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Nigeria looked so inferior in all aspects of the game against Portugal, with the quality gap between both teams wider than the length of Third Mainland Bridge.

Perhaps it is time to stop looking at the Super Eagles as a good team that has underperformed and accept the cold hard truth; this is not a good team and the perceived quality has been grossly overestimated.

The Portuguese team would have come away from that game slightly disappointed as they would have expected a test in their only pre-World Cup warmup but it felt more like a kickabout.

AFP/AFP

The Selecao won the game 4-0 without ever coming out of gear one, it felt more like a training session in a packed stadium and they would be sorely mistaken if they think Ghana- their World Cup group stage opponents- would be this bad.

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Having already established that the Nigerian team is suffering from a quality deficiency, it is important to state that there is an exception, there always is.

The Portuguese players moved the ball purposely and with the assured confidence of high-level performers and the Nigerians paled in comparison, all except one.

Midfielder Alex Iwobi was the only Super Eagles player that matched the world-class displays of the Portuguese and looked like the only Nigerian capable of playing for the opposition.

His touches, movement, calmness on the ball and attempted passes separated him from his mediocre teammates and set him aside as the only world-class player in white.

Iwobi had 61 touches and completed 51 passes with a 92.7% accuracy, two of which were key passes, breaking the lines in each half but his teammates failed to utilise them.

He also completed all seven of his attempted long balls in what was not even his best display but still so much better than his peers who all looked completely out of their shallow depths.

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The main reason Gernot Rohr was relieved of his responsibilities as Super Eagles head coach despite achieving his targets was that the team had no clear pattern of play.

Jose Peseiro was brought in to change that but it appears all that has improved on the pitch for Nigeria are the jerseys.

It was difficult to deduce what Nigeria were trying to achieve against Portugal in that disappointing game.

The Super Eagles at times appeared to be playing a deep block with at least 10 men behind the ball for large spells of the game but the defence still mirrored the security situation of the country, porous and constantly on the brink of collapse.

They were easily split open by the Portuguese and when they did have the ball, Nigeria had no clear ball progression plan.

The team is not technically good enough to build attacks from the back, nor do they have the urgency and sharpness required to be a potent counter-attacking side.

All around it was just a disjointed display and the 4-0 result, as bad as it was, still flattered Nigeria which sums it all up perfectly.

Tunde Young
Tunde is an experienced sports writer/journalist dedicated to promoting Nigerian excellence in sports

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