From the third position at the start of matchday 3, the Super Eagles have risen to the top of Group E standings with two games to go.
One more win will guarantee their ticket to Cameroon 2019. The qualifiers started with a loss against South Africa in June 2017, but the Eagles will qualify if they beat the Bafana Bafana next month, which would be like a wheel turned full circle.
Over the four days in which they confronted the Mediterranean Knights, Gernot Rohr’s team displayed both positive and negative characteristics. Here are the five we picked out:
A Clear Lack Of Experience
This was not about age but about involvement and triumph in pressure-cooker games. Two quick goals in the first half and the Eagles thought they had done their job.
The general complacency that befell the team almost cost them all three points but for a brilliant third goal from red-hot Odion Ighalo. Jamilu Collins, Leon Balogun, and Alex Iwobi were guilty of letting their standards drop.
The team has to learn to play for 90 minutes as we saw something similar to Argentina in Russia. A football game lasts until the referee blows the final whistle.
Iwobi Has To Grow Into The ‘Mikel’ Orchestrator Role
While on the ball, the Arsenal midfielder can be pure magic, he can swing to being pure trash with his decision making around the opponent’s box.
Many have since called for Mikel Obi to retire but on the evidence of this, the substantive Eagles captain still has a place in the team – to teach and to guide. If the Eagles qualify for Cameroon 2019, he will need Mikel to guide him over the line.
Rohr Has To Learn To Act Fast
The best managers are those that can recognise when their team is in trouble and send help. Against Libya in the second leg last Tuesday, Gernot Rohr, at 64, showed he still has some things to learn.
Between the 65th and 73rd minute, the Eagles were under serious pressure and it was clear they needed a steadying influence in the centre of the pitch but Rohr made the needed change a minute too late.
The Raw Materials For Another Strong Eagles’ Team Is Available
Jamilu Collins and Samuel Kalu started the two matches against Libya and despite wobbly moments showed their quality and the value they will bring to the Super Eagles team.
Isaac Success made a return while Henry Onyekuru showed that he needs a little more composure in his game. These four players: Collins ; Kalu ; Success , and Onyekuru  showed the strength in depth of the team going into the future.
Competition Bringing Out The Best In Players
A year ago, it would be unbelievable that the Super Eagles played two crucial matches and Kelechi Iheanacho got no minutes whatsoever. All of a sudden, a young player that is averaging a goal every two games can’t get into the team.
This also applied to Moses Simon, who missed the World Cup because of injuries. But the most glaring case for the good competition for places is Odion Ighalo, who scored five goals in four days after he realised that his future place in the team was in jeopardy for a below average performance at the 2018 World Cup.
Having missed the last two Nations Cup tournaments, the Eagles are looking super again to challenge for Africa’s top football diadem.
No. Team P W D L F A D Pts
1 Nigeria 4 3 0 1 10 4 +6 9
2 South Africa 4 2 2 0 8 0 +8 8
3 Libya 4 1 1 2 7 8 -1 4
4 Seychelles 4 0 1 3 1 14 -13 1
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