Some talking points from the Super Eagles 2-2 draw against Ukraine on Tuesday.
Ukraine 2 Vs 2 Nigeria: 5 things we learnt from Super Eagles draw in friendly
The Super Eagles of Nigeria played out an exciting 2-2 draw away in Ukraine on Tuesday, September 10.
In Super Eagles’ first game since the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where they won the bronze medal, debutant Joe Aribo and Victor Osimhen scored in the first half before Manchester City Oleksandr Zinchenko led the Yellow-Blues fight back in the second.
These are five things we learnt from the game.
ALSO READ: Match report of Ukraine 2 Vs 2 Nigeria
1. Aribo gets impressive
Called up for the first time to the Super Eagles, Rangers midfielder was thrown straight into action and just minutes into the game, he got a goal.
It was a dream debut for Aribo who was very impressive in the game with his energy and drive in midfield. Although he didn’t do well in defending when it was needed, the 23-year-old was an asset in attack as he caused problems with his burst and movement inside the Ukrainian box.
He showed that he has a future with the Super Eagles with his impressive outing on his debut.
2. Osimhen is Super Eagles new number 9
Although Victor Osimhen’s qualities as a striker are well known to Nigerian football enthusiasts who have followed his career, the Tuesday night game was still an audition for him. Everyone was looking to see how the young striker would perform as Super Eagles number 9 and the feedback would tell how far we are close to replacing Odion Ighalo who retired after AFCON 2019.
And what a performance from the 20-year-old who gave a very good account of himself. He was everything against Ukraine, his hold-up play, movement and pace caused problems for the Ukrainian defence.
3. Francis Uzoho is Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper
It’s been quite a short journey for Francis Uzoho in the national team. He came just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was the first choice automatically. Then his club career stagnated in 2019 and he lost his starting XI shirt at AFCON 2019.
But after his performance on Tuesday night, it is without a doubt that the 20-year-old is back as Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper. Uzoho had his best performance in a Super Eagles shirt with several saves in the game.
He made three good saves in the first and one from a freekick in the second.
4. Impressive young core
A new era has kicked off for the Super Eagles after AFCON 2019 with the exits and phasing away of a couple of players and the introduction of new talented stars.
At Rohr’s disposal is a young core of talented players. All of the players that featured for the Super Eagles on Tuesday night are aged 25 and below apart from William Troost-Ekong who just turned 26.
5. Semi Ajayi fails another audition
After he was dropped from the Super Eagles squad for AFCON 2019, Semi Ajayi was recalled for the game against Ukraine. Ajayi had mostly played as a midfielder for the Super Eagles but on Tuesday night, he was given the role of a central defender, which he did terribly.
The West Brom defender wasn’t quick enough to track runners in the box, showed indiscipline in positioning and left his partner Troost-Ekong exposed on several occasions.
He didn’t convince when Rohr played him in midfield and from Tuesday night’s game, the same can also be said of his role in central defence.