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Afcon 2019: Why The Fullbacks Are Causing Problems For The Super Eagles

Watching the Afcon 2019 it would be easy to blame head coach Gernot Rohr for the problems facing the Nigerian team.  The defence has been pretty solid apart from an uncharacteristic mistake from Leon Balogun and jittery moments from Daniel Akpeyi.

But one area of the team which many Nigerian pundits have failed to talk about is the lack of chances created by the Super Eagles despite the abundant attacking talents in the team.

Some have clamoured for the inclusion of Henry Onyekuru and Osimhen but they would also face similar problems if Rohr does not change his approach.

Rohr Favours Possession Base Football

Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr has gradually changed the style of play that the Super Eagles are known for as he favours a patient ball possession-based game.

This often includes the defenders building up from the back and utilizing the passing abilities of the midfielders with the wingers staying out wide.

When the ball is brought into the midfield the forwards use a combination passes to carve open opposition defences for easy chances.

This style of game may not be as attractive as the traditional Nigerian style of play of quick wing play transitions but it works.

You can hate him all you want but Rohr has qualified Nigeria for two major tournaments without the use of a calculator on the final day.

This proves that his method is working if he utilizes the right players.

Rohr Needs To Deploy A Midfield Base Of Mikel and Ndidi

As much as I like Rohr’s tactics he is a stubborn coach who sticks to a set of principles and players similar to former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri.  What he needs to do against Cameroun is to use a midfield base of Mikel and Ndidi.

Mikel showed last season at Middlesbrough that when used as a deep line creative midfielder he can excel. He would have the perfect partner in Ndidi who has been the best Nigerian player so far and in the form of his life.

This midfield base can be the basis of the patient possession game that Rohr favours. He can also deploy Etebo as an advanced midfielder similar to how Samson Siasia used him the Olympics where he scored four goals.

This way Mikel can influence the game from deep and Etebo would have more room to act as the connecting player between the attack and defence.

Rohr Must Resolve the Fullback issue

The major problems affecting the Super Eagles attack are their fullbacks Ola Aina and Awaziem. Ola Aina is a right fullback playing on the left and Awaziem is a conservative fullback. This kills the team’s attack as there is no overlapping runs from deep when the two wingers pullback.

For you to get the scenario watch the first match between Nigeria and Burundi.

In the first half  Chukwueze was partnered with Shehu Abdullahi and terrorized the Burundi defence because when he cut in, Abdullahi provided overlapping runs causing problems for the opposition defence.

However, you would notice that when Abdullahi got injured Chukwueze suddenly disappeared from the game due to the conservative nature of replacement fullback Awoziem.

Rohr Must Bring In Jamiu Collins

What Rohr needs to do is to start with Aina at the right back and Jamiu Collins at left back.Collins was one of the stars of the qualifiers ending the long-awaited reliance on Elderson Echiejile and proved to be a quality addition to the team.

Collins would give extra attacking options on the left side of attack which would enable the likes of Ahmed Musa and Samuel Kalu to thrive.

I believe that the fullbacks would be important for the Super Eagles on Saturday as Cameroun have proven to be susceptible defensively.

In conclusion, Rohr knows his players better than any pundit and it would be interesting to see what lineup he picks on Saturday.

Please Comment Below with your Observations or Questions.

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