Exclusive: How Rohr turned 'Eagles' poor start against Argentina to victory

*The positives of ‘Eagles’ games against Algeria, Argentina

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Topic: Sports

Exclusive: How Rohr turned 'Eagles' poor start against Argentina to victory
Gernot Rohr


The footballing public across the world, particularly Nigerians were shocked on the outcome of the International friendly game that took place Tuesday November 14 in Russia between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and their Argentine counterparts.

While the result of the epic encounter which ended 4:2 in favour of the Nigerian National team is no longer news, the dismal start of the former African champion, which saw them conceding a cheeky goal through goal keeping error of Daniel Akpeyi at the early minutes, another avoidable second goal in the early stages of the first half, before the stunning free kick of Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho, who pulled a goal back at the stroke of half time is better reflected, than out-rightly forgotten.

Going by the strength of dominance of the Argentine National team in the first half, the 2:1 score line at the end of half time was flattery to say the least.

The Super Eagles which played the traditional 4:3:3 formation during the first 45 minutes, were simply poor and pedestrian.

The Eagles’ gaffer, Gernot Rohr at the resumption of hostilities in the second half, introduced tactical change in some personnel and the formation. The German born tactician swiftly switched formation to 3:4:3 system currently played by Chelsea and made substitution at the back.

Rohr deployed Leon Balogun to the left side of the 3-man rear guard, detailed William Troost Ekong to play at the middle and introduced Ado Den Haag of Holland right back, Tyronne Ebuehi to complete the defense line at the right side.

By implication, the Super Eagles’ gaffer equally brought in the Russian-Nigerian, Adrian Idowu to play in front of Leon Balogun so as to strengthen the Eagles’ left-sided midfield, which was simply out of  colour in the first half.

Unlike the first half, Eagles’ Captain, John Mikel Obi became more effective to link-up with Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Anthony Nwaekeme at the front, because John Ogu, Wilfred Ndidi, Adrian Idowu and the fourth player in the team’s right angle were able to provide cover at the middle of the pack and effectively disjointed the Argentine midfield.

The game later saw the replacement of Leon Balogun with Kenneth Emeruo, so as to increase the mobility of the Nigerian side. There was also the introduction of Ahmed Musa at the right flank of the Eagles’ attack.

The introduction of the new formation and personnel saw a more coordinated Super Eagles’ rear guard, mobile midfield and a more creative as well as sharp attack line.

Alex Iwobi found his spark and Iheanacho discovered his deft touches to the bewilderment of the Argentines and their technical crew. The resultant effect was the eventual shocking 4:2 victory over the South Americans.

Super Eagles' players acknowledging the applause from fans after the game

*Positives of Eagles’ games against Algeria, Argentina

The last world cup qualifier against Algeria away, which saw FC Ifeanyi Ubah goal tender, Ikechukwu Ezenwa manning the goal, exposed his poor ability when it comes to dealing with crosses from dead ball situations from the flanks. Daniel Akpeyi’s unpardonable errors in the first half of the encounter with the Argentines, showed the need for the Nigeria technical crew to bring back former Eagles’ Captain, Vincent Eyeama to the team as Nigeria heads to the mundial in 2018.

Though not really tested, the few minutes of display of 19-year old Deportivo de La Coruna’s save hands, Francis Uzoho in the Super Eagles’ goal in the game against Argentina may have restored some confidence in the team’s rear guard.

Another promising light in the 4:3:3 formation Rohr deployed in the second half, is that it will sooth Victor Moses more at the world cup, if he plays in front of Tyronne Ebuehi and Odion Ighalo’s strength will also serve the team better if Rohr sticks to the new tactical approach.

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Anthony Metsese Ebule
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