Nigeria: Super Eagles Rating - Moses, Eagles' Shining Light - Iwobi, Treading Water

soccer pitch
20 January 2022

There have been some major disappointments, but a majority of the players have raised their game

Nine points from three matches throw up its own challenges for the Super Eagles, and especially for the coach, Augustine Eguavoen.

The starting 11 for the opening two matches did the business and the supporting cast showed their capabilities against Guinea Bissau, but some, like Alex Iwobi, are now treading water in their national careers.

Goalkeepers

Maduka Okoye - 180 minutes - 6.5/10

Beaten once, and not from open play, Okoye possesses all the attributes for a competent goalkeeper apart from fostering confidence in the players ahead of him, especially on crosses. If he will build his box presence, then the future is assured.

Francis Uzoho - 90 minutes - 6/10

The first choice in the last World Cup, now the second choice, Uzoho showed he is still very agile but also faced with the same confidence-reposing challenge.

Defenders

Ola Aina - 180 minutes - 7.5/10

This has been the breakout tournament for Aina as he has solidified his place in the first 11. Strong in the tackle and not a spring chicken in aerial duels, the Torino defender has so much offensive nous to help his team push forward down the right flank.

Tyronne Ebuehi - 76 minutes - 6/10

Composed showing against Guinea Bissau but Aina is now ahead of him.

William Troost-Ekong - 270 minutes - 7/10

The captain has been solid and proven a good defensive organiser. He is also improving his ball distribution when he has to push forward though there are still question marks on his recovery rate, especially from lofted balls. He has also now scored in two successive AFCON tournaments

Kenneth Omeruo - 169 minutes - 7/10

He was second-choice behind Leon Balogun but in the Rangers' defender's absence, has brought his experience to bear beside Troost-Ekong. He showed with his link to Moses Simon against Egypt how he can effectively link defense with the attack.

Semi Ajayi - 101 minutes - 6/10

Ajayi is still learning the ropes, especially about African football. Too determined to win balls off attackers, thereby giving away cheap freekicks. There might not be enough time to really build an international career at 28.

Zaidu Sanusi - 180 minutes - 7/10

Sanusi lost his place to Collins under Rohr but with Collins' lateness to report to camp, Sanusi was reinstalled as the first-choice left-back and he has not disappointed. He held his own against Mohamed Salah, which will have built more confidence in the Porto defender as the tournament progresses.

Jamilu Collins - 90 minutes - 5/10

Did the usual. The Paderborn defender does not really possess offensive acumen and can be easily bullied at set plays.

Olisa Ndah - 14 mins - 6/10

A cameo against Guinea Bissau showed his calm and confident nature on the ball. He should continue to grow with the national team.

Midfielders

Wilfred Ndidi - 270 minutes - 8.5/10

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The general in the centre of the pitch and an accomplished leader of men, with his indefatigable work rate. A goal before his 50th cap (will earn his 47th cap in the second round) will be the icing on his cake in the national team.

Joe Aribo - 155 minutes - 8/10

Aribo is both destroyer and protagonist, he could have capped his excellent showing so far in Cameroon with a goal against Sudan. With loads of energy and an eye for the killer pass, Aribo has excelled in the No.10 jersey.

Kelechi Nwakili - 135 minutes - 6.5/10

In search of a playmaker, Eguavoen has given quality minutes to the former U-17 World Cup winner and he looks to have grabbed a place in the squad

Frank Onyeka - 14 mins - 5/10

Not enough minutes to impress but looks ready and raring to go.

Forwards

Kelechi Iheanacho - 210 minutes - 7/10

Iheanacho has one goal and one assist but it could have been more on both fronts. The Leicester man has been in positions where his first touch has negated gilt-edged chances and opportunities.

Taiwo Awoniyi - 154 minutes - 6.5/10

Tireless running and relentless channel running have helped the Eagles in offensive setups. His fortuitous goal against Sudan will have buoyed his confidence and he will be more dangerous in the second round.

Moses Simon - 213 minutes - 9/10

Simon has indisputably been the star turn of this Super Eagles team. Always looking to break the lines and take on his man, the Nantes forward has delivered in every moment has been on the ball for the Eagles in Cameroon. If Nigeria wins this tournament, CAF can look no further than 'Daddy' for the MVP of the tournament although Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar, with five goals, is currently the leading candidate for that award.

Chidera Ejuke - 75 mins - 5/10

So far, Ejuke has failed his audition for the No.10 role. Highly thought of by Coach Eguavoen, the CSKA Moscow forward has not been decisive on the ball, and his final ball has been a letdown.

Samuel Chukwueze - 117 mins - 5.5/10

Despite his goal against Sudan, the Villarreal has been underwhelming. Too many decidedly uncoordinated displays have put a huge question mark on his progression but his place in the team is assured because both Iwobi and Ejuke have been below par.

Umar Sadiq - 83 mins - 5.5/10

The Almeria forward has so far failed to replicate his Segunda form for the Eagles. Gangly and slightly clumsy, he took his debut goal very well.

Peter Oladeji Olayinka - 30 mins - 5/10

Maybe when the Eagles need a forward to put everyone under pressure, they will call on Olayinka but if they need a goal, the coach will look elsewhere.

Ahmed Musa - 25 mins - 4/10

This is Musa's last Nations Cup tournament, and it could also become his swansong with the national team. Definitely, no more a starter-his place off the bench is also under serious review going forward.

Henry Onyekuru - 10 mins - N/A

Not much time to come to a valid conclusion, but he showed his turbo speed against Guinea Bissau. He will hope to get more minutes if the Eagles progress all the way.

Coach Augustine Eguavoen - 8/10

The interim manager has got his team up and running in his way in no time at all. He has picked the right players, with the benefit of substitutions and the dead-rubber game against Guinea Bissau. If he continues to lead the team in the right direction and wins the AFCON, he will have to continue in the role for the crucial home and away World Cup qualifier in March.

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