After the tension filled build up to the Nigeria versus Senegal international friendly brought about by anxieties from late arrivals on both sides; accounts of stranded Senegalese players; and the bizarre news of a relatively unknown goalkeeper who suddenly found his way to the Super Eagles fold, the game has finally come and gone. Here are the seven positives Nigeria can draw from the Senegal draw:
- GREAT TEST: The match was a true test of how Nigeria could fare against a physical team similar to their World Cup qualifying foe, Cameroon. From Nigeria’s performance, we can gladly say the players collectively adjusted quickly to the circumstance. Pulling a fine performance against a team like Senegal who was one of the AFCON favorites in Gabon earlier in the year, a team placed higher according to FIFA’s latest monthly rankings, and a team with arguably more established players in Europe compared to the youthful Nigerian team, we can say indeed that Nigeria has shown great promise by this feat
- OMERUO STILL HAS A PROMISING FUTURE: Omeruo’s performance in right back showed that we may not be lacking in that department after all. We can attribute his fine showing to his regular outing in the Turkish league, and how his Alanyaspor coach have used him in positions other than his familiar Center-Back role.
- ISAAC SUCCESS IS THE TRUTH: We have found a solid physical force in the Watford forward. He is the perfect man to trouble Cameroon. He once bullied Eric Bailey of Manchester United during Watford’s famous home win against the Red Devils in the current Premier League season. He again showed that potential when he came against Senegalese defenders. He will definitely get another call up. Success has cemented a place for himself in the Super Eagles after this fine debut.
- NIGERIA STILL YET TO LOSE UNDER ROHR: Gernot Rohr is still yet to experience his first loss since taking over as coach of the Super Eagles. That Nigeria could come back against a cohesive Senegal, outlines the fact that Nigeria can even do better going forward. Rohr should definitely get the credit.
- IHEANACHO IS 5 OUT OF 8: Kelechi Iheanacho has shown great potential in the green-white-green especially in front of goal. He has scored five times after eight international caps. Should he keep this momentum, he could end up becoming Nigeria’s all time highest goal scorer, especially considering that he is still yet to reach his peak in the game.
- OGU-NDIDI PARTNERSHIP: Ogenyi Onazi’s injury led to the introduction of John Ogu in his place, and like a blessing in disguise, the Super Eagles midfield did not just have a new look but a solid one — “indeedi”. Could this be the end of the long standing Mikel-Onazi midfield partnership? Never mind the question as Mikel is mostly seen in the attacking midfield role.
- IWOBI IS NOT RIPE FOR THIS: As far as the African game is concerned, Iwobi should be left to study proceedings from the bench, before introduction. He again was not his usual Premier League self against Senegal, just as he did in Nigeria’s last game World Cup qualifier against Algeria. He still has a goal to his name — let’s not take anything away from him. But going by his latest performances in Super Eagles colors, he is certainly a player as a an option, but not a player for the moment.