December 5, 2022

Liberia 0-2 Nigeria: What did we learn? –

  • November 14, 2021
  • 3 min read
Liberia 0-2 Nigeria: What did we learn? –

Gernot Rohr’s team delivered in Tangier to claim a 2-0 result that leaves them requiring one point against Cape Verde to progress to the playoff round in World Cup qualifying.
Victor Osimhen and Ahmed Musa came up trumps from the spot to prevent another shock result against a side the West African giants were favourites to beat.
What stood out in Nigeria’s victory over the Lone Stars?
While their composure deserted them in the final third, Peter Butler’s team played out from the back fairly impressively.
Their ball progression into midfield was smoother and appeared more integrated than their illustrious opponents.
They lacked the necessary quality in the attacking third, but Butler was probably more pleased with his team’s general showing than Gernot Rohr.
Understanding what Rohr’s team are trying to do would give any observer a headache.
Nothing feels cohesive and there’s a risk of concluding the Super Eagles appear off-the-cuff in how they play.
Saturday’s game often saw the ball worked to Chidozie Awaziem who then played lofted balls over the top.
This led to the penalty for the opening goal and saw Kelechi Iheanacho fashion a chance for Osimhen, but it looked unsustainable for 90 minutes and so it proved as the African giants struggled when they couldn’t send balls in behind the Lone Stars’ defence.
The Torino wide defender has been one of the Serie A side’s better players under Ivan Juric so far, flourishing on the left berth.
Rohr appears reluctant to utilise the former Chelsea man in that position and continues to persist with Jamilu Collins.
Aina’s ball carrying and inclination to be involved in moves is being slept on by Rohr who could be getting more out of his left berth with the wide defender in the team.
Leaving out the tardy striker was the right decision as it could have sent the wrong message to have the returning 32-year-old available for selection on Saturday.
Having dropped Maduka Okoye in the defeat by the Central African Republic for the same reason – arriving late to camp – showing consistency by not picking Ighalo was the right thing to do.
Admittedly, this would have been a departure from Butler’s approach on the day, but fans of the Lone Stars may have found this disappointing owing to Nigeria’s previous struggles.
Cape Verde netted through a ball in behind in Nigeria’s eventual turnaround and CAR netted a late winner in Lagos last month having already threatened to score from a similar situation earlier in the second half.
There’s an odd tendency among Nigerian defenders to make a hash of long balls, and there’s a feeling Liberia missed an opportunity to target an error-prone rearguard as they broadly stuck to their ideals.
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