Statistics zone for Nigeria V Rwanda

By Nduka Orjinmo

Ahmed Musa and Kalu Uche came in for John Utaka and Victor Moses in the starting line-up, confirming rumours through the week that both men were going to be dropped.

Other than those two, as well as Elderson Echiejile in Left Full Back, the team remained unchanged from the starting eleven that had confronted Namibia and Malawi in the last two matches.

Ahmed Musa started on the right with Uzoenyi on the left and both switched roles though not as fluidly as the trio of Victor Moses, John Utaka and Ejike Uzoenyi did in the first game.

Ahmed Musa was very lively in the first half, using his pace to good effect and tracked back well when the team defended.

Though the formation did look closely similar to my argued 4-3-2-1 formation against Namibia- though Keshi has said he played a 4-4-2? - The positioning of Gabriel Reuben this time, made the Eagles look 4-4-1-1’ish.

Though Ejike and Ahmed did switch roles in the game, both players thrived on going outside of their markers when they played in their preferred positions.

Ahmed was vigorous going past men when he was on the right, and was even able to deliver some good balls.

A case in point for Uzoenyi was a perfect ball cut into the eighteen yard box in the second half only that Kalu Uche couldn’t profit.

Unlike the first game against Namibia where Gabriel Reuben sat on the same line with Obiora Nwankwo, this time he was clearly the man in front, the Attacking Midfielder charged with providing the creative play and link-up with passes.

Reuben did win the man of the match, his energy and marking abilities were exemplary, but he did not perform so well in his ‘official duty’.

Though the match was as one-sided as Governor Amaechi’s 2011 gubernatorial election, little can be remembered of it in terms of excitement or insightful play.
Often times, when a team is boring and unexciting, a finger is pointed at the direction of the attacking midfielder and so is done here in Reuben’s way.

He is clearly not the man for the job, just as Victor Moses couldn’t do it in the first game, no matter what Keshi would say.

For an Attacking midfielder in a 4-4-1-1 formation to have had just a single through ball and a single successful dribble, says much of his influence on the game.

Asides his marvellous energy and marking ability, can anyone remember Gabriel Reuben for doing something else?

He had a bag of unsuccessful passes, too much for a creative midfielder and his inclination to track back deeply took him too often away from the strikers.

The guy is a good defensive midfielder, a destroyer of a man with energy to burn. But he is clearly not the man for the creative duties.

Upfront, Uche Kalu partnered Ike Uche, with both switching roles though the Enyimba man was the point man.

Now, this affected the way the team played and it will be interesting to find out if the change of play was an instruction from the bench.

In the match against Namibia, Vincent Enyeama served twenty two short balls to his defenders who built up play from the back.

Against Rwanda, not even a single short ball was served. Whether this was down to the presence of Uche Kalu or the goalkeepers lack of confidence in his defenders ball playing ability is another thing, but I’m thinking that he wanted to utilize the height of the big man.

Though Uche Kalu is profligate in front of goal, borne by his lack of composure and technical ability, he did win 7 headers and was able to hold up the ball very well.

Lacking in pace and quick feet, he was the architect of the second goal as he was able to bring down the ball with his chest for the onrushing Ahmed Musa to whack into the net.

He should also learn to be in the box where his headers can be translated into shots on target rather than for ball winning and passes. He has this natural tendency to drift out to the wings, and his partnership with Ike Uche who himself is not a box lover, meant that most times we had no player in the critical area when the balls came in. a case in point was when left back Elderson Echiejile went forward and beat three men, only for the ball he put into the box to go untended because both strikers were not at their duty post.

Elderson Echiejile so far confirmed his credentials for the left back position, as he came in for Juwon Oshinawan who was not dressed for the match.

His runs across the halfway line were assured and decisive, his dribbles incisive and his defending was reliable.

He looked like a man that knew the job, and he did it well. Though he never received any short ball from his goalie, he and right back Efe had to fend for themselves through tackles won and whatever came from the midfielders.

I have come to like Efe Ambrose at his adopted right back role, for his calmness in defending and his instinct to become a third central defender when needed.

He always looked left at Echiejile, to make sure that he did not go forward at the same time as the LB.

Twice, he tucked into the center back position and made decisive clearances. When he did go forward, he went with the knowledge of his abilities and his limits, got a few dribbles and made some crosses into the area.

Obiora Nwankwo was clearly my man of the match. Unlike in the game against Namibia where perhaps he was a little bit confused as to his role and had another team mate in his territory, he was the pinpointed DM in this case and he enjoyed his job. He saw the most of the ball, gave the most passes, was successful with well struck diagonal balls and between the defence, the wingers and the strikers all fed from him.

Severally he dropped back into central defence and had a few clearances.

Though he couldn’t control the tempo of the game, he did exact his influence. It is in this position that the country is well blessed, and Keshi has a mouthful to chew when the plate becomes complete.

Obiora Nwankwo, Joel Obi, John Mikel Obi, Gabriel Reuben. Perhaps Dickson Etuhu, perhaps Sani Keita.

Sone Aluko, Raheem Lawal and Vicor Moses all came on form the bench, and the match went hay-wire in terms of organization.

It was difficult to understand what the role of Raheem Lawal was, as he came on to replace Ahmed Musa who had hugged the line all afternoon.

Raheem went into the middle albeit stationed on the right, though he went everywhere but the touchline.

He sat alongside Gabriel Reuben when we had the ball, congesting play in the middle and providing less of an option on the right.

With Ejike Uzoenyi still standing on the line at the left, it became lopsided and without structure.

It is difficult to understand whether this was a defensive move from the coaches or whether the player was acting his own script.

I don’t know Raheem’s natural position in the middle, but I would say the lad loves short quick passes and is always on the look out to pick out one.

It will be interesting to see what he can do, if he is given the Attacking Midfield position.

Victor Moses saw few minutes of the game but had that moment when he showed us what pace he had.

The Wigan man ghosted past three men in top gear but again, there was no one in the box to pass to and he lost steam. He would be happier playing down the left flank like he does for his club.

Aluko had little time to impress and when he did see the ball, he looked indecisive and not so sure footed.

Still young, I would rather he works his way through the ranks all be ready to put up gargantuan performances for his club to merit another call up.

Not so much of an interesting game despite its one sidedness. The Rwandans would have done better with some fighting spirit to compensate for their lack of equally talented players like the Nigerians.

Ntamuhanga Tamariste and Miyonzima Haruna deserve some mention for their performances. They were the only plants in the forest.

The Super Eagles did not play so well. The movement was not fluid, build up play was poor and the lack of flair in such a one sided game leaves so much to be desired.

A sharp contrast to the Namibia game was the lack of short balls from the goalkeeper. Whether this was due to the presence of a big striker upfront or an apparent lack of desire in keeping the ball, didn’t help in retaining possession, but resulted somehow in a goal.



Position: Attacking Midfielder

Successful Passes: 29
Unsuccessful passes: 7
Through balls: 1
Successful Dribbles: 1
Headers: 8
Tackles won: 5
Interceptions: 8
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 1
Fouls committed: 4
Blocked shots: 1

Position: Defensive Midfielder
Successful Passes: 31
Unsuccessful passes: 3
Fouls suffered: 3
Fouls committed: 2
Shots on: 1
Headers: 2
Interceptions: 8

Position: Right Back
Successful Passes: 18
Unsuccessful passes: 3
Headers: 7
Balls received from Goalkeeper: nil
Tackles won: 10
Fouls committed: 1
Crosses into 18 yard box: 4
Deliberate forward runs across half way line: 6
Dribbles: 2

Position: LB
Successful passes: 22
Unsuccessful passes: 4
Headers: 5
Balls received from Goalkeeper: nil
Forward runs across the half way line: 10
Tackles won: 6
Fouls committed: 1
Fouls suffered: 1
Crosses into the box: 2
Interceptions: 1

Position: Central Defender
Short passes: 9
Long balls: 4
Unsuccessful passes: 3
Headers: 9
Fouls committed: 1
Tackles won: 10
Shots blocked: 1
Forward runs: 3
Dribbles: 2

Position: Right Midfielder
Crosses into the 18 yard box: 8
Inward cuts: 5
Successful passes: 18
Dribbles: 7
Shots on: 1
Deliberate track-back runs: 4
Blocked shots: 1
Fouls suffered: 2
Tackles won: 4

Position: striker
Fouls suffered: 5
Offside positioning: 1
Headers: 6

Position: Goal Keeper
Shots caught: 2
Shots punched: 1
Short balls served: nil
Long balls served: 11
Short throw: 1
Blocked shots: 1
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  1. Nduka Orjinmo is becoming my favourite Nigerian sports writer. Keep up the good work.

  2. Nduka is my favourite too. I'm sure he will keep up the good work