Nigeria v Iceland: Five things Rohr can’t afford to do

Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Genort Rohr.
Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Genort Rohr.

Gernot Rohr was often praised for being able to right the wrongs in his team, especially with better second half performances. But caution must not totally be thrown away concerning the 11 players that started against Croatia last Saturday and got beaten 2-0.

Even staying at the same spot for some time does not mean a person has not made progress. There are five things the German tactician cannot afford on Friday at the Volgograd Arena:

Cannot afford to drop either Etebo or Ndidi

Unless one of these players is very unfit, they must be fielded against Iceland in what is now a must-win match.

News filtering in from Volgograd says that Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr is considering dropping Wilfred Ndidi for Ogenyi Onazi when the Nigerian team faces Iceland in a must-win encounter on Friday.

If this is true then Rohr’s admission, “I feel that we will not lose this game so I don’t ask myself, you can ask if you like, after the game but I tell you, we will not lose” will not happen.

In the shoddy performance against Croatia, Ndidi won the most tackles and his pass success rate was 90%, second only to Oghenekaro Etebo’s 93%. He also won five aerial duels, same as Ante Rebic and Ivan Strinic. Ndidi was not dispossessed of the ball throughout the encounter while Mikel Obi lost the ball once and Etebo, twice.

Speaking before the team moved to Volgograd on Thursday, the Leicester City midfield ace said, “’We have put the loss behind us, we will give everything we have in the next game, we will die there in the next game.”

Cannot afford to play three defensive midfielders

Whatever formation he lines up with, what Rohr cannot afford is picking three defensive midfielders. We know the Icelandic team will be compact and circumspect. They set up to not be defeated therefore they will defend, at all times with two banks of four players before their goalkeeper. In this match, the Eagles must score goals – and it looks like one won’t be enough. To do that, Rohr must get more offensive players into the starting while not shirking defensive duties.

Cannot afford to play defensive fullbacks

In the match against Croatia, Abdullahi Shehu was just a defensive option. In modern football where fullbacks are a part and parcel of a team’s offense, Rohr must use fullbacks or wingbacks as the occasion might demand against Iceland. While this is not saying he should start in a 3-5-2 formation – what is paramount is that the players that will be given the job of playing on the flanks must be offensively minded.

Cannot afford to be lackadaisical from the first minute

The Super Eagles cannot start the match against Iceland, lacking any tempo. They must start the match as if they are two goals down [which they really are] and looking for the equaliser. Victor Moses has called for an early goal and that is a very good advice. ”We have a plan to apply for Iceland in the hope of scoring goals early and making them feel bad,” Moses told

Cannot afford to play a lone striker

In all the matches played before the start of the World Cup, the only encounter in which Rohr has employed a lone striker and scored more than one goal was against Cameroon in the qualifiers for Russia 2018. Against Poland, Serbia, Congo DR, and England – the Eagles lacked numbers in the opposition box to convert chances. Against Iceland, who have a solid defensive block, the Eagles must get more numbers into the box to unsettle the Icelandic defenders to score the needed goals.

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