The Super Eagles are in a dire situation, needing an outright win over Iceland to get their World Cup campaign back on track after a rather disappointing start against Croatia last weekend.
Though it is usually said that no two games are the same, the Super Eagles will need to change a lot about how they played against Croatia if they are to get any favourable result against their Scandinavian opponents.
Here are five suggestions that can help the Super Eagles soar past Iceland in Friday’s Group D game in Volgograd.
Alex Iwobi for No.10 role
Though Iwobi was given a starter’s shirt against Croatia, being played on the wings was a great disservice for the player and the Super Eagles as a whole.
There is no gainsaying that Iwobi is arguably the most creative player in the present Super Eagles set-up and his goals return in recent games are equally impressive.
It would be a step in the right direction if the Arsenal man is given the No.10 position against Iceland.
A man who should know and a former No.10 for Nigeria, Austin Okocha said after the Croatia game: “The most creative player in that team is Alex Iwobi but he was played on the flanks. He (Iwobi) can play on the flanks at Arsenal because they had better players in that role like Mesut Ozil.
“The reason why we lost was because we played our best players out of their positions.
“Playing Mikel in that position didn’t help Moses and Iwobi on the flanks.”
Ebuehi to replace Shehu Abdullahi
Tryone Ebuehi is more offensive minded and not in any way lacking his primary defensive duties. The new Benfica signing showed what he can do when he was given the nod in the right side of defense during the test games; especially against Argentina and England. Tactically he is sound and can get in the crosses that should create chances for the Eagles up front
Super Eagles must show more urgency
One of the most noticeable flaws in the Super Eagles’ 2-0 loss to Croatia was their inexplicable lack of urgency. The team did not show enough desire to win the game and it reflected in their overall performance.
Despite being behind and looking for goals, they kept passing the ball backwards and did not threaten the Croatia defense, having a paltry two shots on targets.
Against Iceland, the hunger and precision must be visible or else, the Eagles may be bidding Russia farewell earlier than many imagined.
Better defending of set pieces
The Iceland XI that started against Argentina had an average height of 6 ft 0 in (1.84m). Super Eagles need no further warning that they have to curtail their opponents well when we are defending set pieces.
Set pieces have proven to be the scourge of Nigeria at the World Cup, conceding 52% of their goals at the tournament via that means since their debut in 1994, which is a higher ratio than any other nation in that timeframe.
Feelers from the Super Eagles training sessions in the build-up to the Iceland game suggest the handlers are working hard on this perceived weakness…
Rohr must show he has the balls
Gernot Rohr must not hesitate to bring in quality replacements on time if for any reason his starters fail him.
Late substitutions when very little can be salvage could be detrimental if the Super Eagles are to get all three points against Iceland.