It was not the valedictory match the Super Eagles’ fans wanted as the Congo DR did not lie down to be slaughtered.
The Adokie Amiesimaka Stadium pitch did not help matters as it proved grossly unplayable. Despite the unflattering scoreline and lacklustre performance of some of the players and the team as a whole, there are five things that were established with the line-up and performance of the players put out by Gernot Rohr.
Iheanacho can’t function from the midfield
Kelechi Iheanacho is arguably the most potent forward for the Eagles, but he cannot function properly in a midfield position. The thought is cerebral but the execution has been faulty since Rohr decided that was the best way to get the Leicester man into the starting 11.
The lapses created by his lack of technical understanding of the position he has been told to play were glaring against Serbia and Congo DR. Maybe, the shape of the team may have to change to accommodate a burly striker upfront and Iheanacho in a slightly withdrawn role.
Uzoho will be No.1 in Russia
I have always said that Rohr’s mind has been made up concerning the goalkeeping position for the Eagles. Francis Uzoho will be played in all the friendly matches leading to Russia 2018 because Rohr intends to get him up to speed and to create a relationship with the two likely centre-backs – Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong.
That is the plan and it is panning out nicely.
Echiejile is a serious doubt
The left fullback position in the Super Eagles team has been a problem position since the 2014 World Cup even though Elderson Echiejile held down the position throughout the qualifiers.
Inaction at his club, Cercle Brugge in Belgium’s second division since February, showed glaringly against Congo DR. He was short of legs so had to dive into tackles and he could not help the team offensively.
Unfortunately, his supposed replacement, Ola Aina, did not cover himself in any glory by giving away the penalty that earned the Congolese a deserved equaliser. This means Bryan Idowu will be going to Russia with Echiejile looking a serious candidate for the chop.
Nwankwo is going to Russia
Rohr would have admitted beforehand that this was a scenario that just had the confirmation with the Congo DR encounter. Rohr ensured the Crotone man started through the middle and played Junior Lokosa down the right flank. But the gangly striker showed with his knack for getting stuck in and his movement behind the defence showed he would be an asset for the Eagles in Russia.
The defence will be under pressure
The Eagles are not creating chances at the moment. From the Poland friendly to the one against Congo DR on Monday in Port Harcourt, the Nigerian team scored two goals and conceded two.
In the match against Poland, the team faced a barrage of attacks but held on [with the help of referee] to take a 1-0 win. Against Serbia, the template was followed but this time, the Eagles were punished.
And then against Congo DR, the team scored but conceded an equaliser with five minutes left on the clock. The Eagles stand a chance but the defending by the team will have to be impeccable for the team to progress from Group D.