|Super Eagles attacker, Odion Ighalo|
By Toritseju Williams
Nigerian players are enjoying a stellar 2016 so far with Kelechi Iheanacho making the headlines for Manchester City, Victor Moses finally earning a place in Chelsea and Brown Ideye scoring his first Career hat trick.
Things also seem to be going on so well for the defenders as well looking at Troost Ekong and Leon Balogun also establishing themselves in their respective clubs
Nigerians also have lots of young players doing very well all around the world like
Moses Simon who was in the champions league last season, Sadiq Umar signing a big deal with Italian Giants AS Roma not forgetting Kelechi Nwakali and Taiwo Awoniyi who also got good deals.
The likes of Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Isaac Success and John Mikel Obi cannot be ignored but the big question is “with all these talented players why don’t Nigeria have a super “Super Eagles”
Why don’t we ever see this quality translated to the national team?
Former Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa joined EPL champions Leicester City in the summer but he might just be a perfect example looking at his club and international records
Last season Musa scored 17 goals in 40 games for CSKA Moscow the team’s top scorer, celebrated and exalted but compare that to Nigeria where the Pacey winger has managed just 11 goals in his 6 year stay, an average of about 1 goal every 6 games compared to last season’s 1 in 2.3.
Odion Ighalo is a beast for Watford averaging 1 goal just over every 2 games but for the Super Eagles he has managed just 3 goals and looks isolated up front in the green jersey
It's not just about the goals, it's about the performance generally as Arsenal youngster Alex Iwobi makes things happen for the north London outfit but isn't so influential in his native colours
Why are they club heroes and country zeroes?
It's never easy to bring players from different leagues and fit in the different pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in a few days expecting to be picture perfect.
A talented bunch might not have the needed team chemistry to be world beaters
Looking at captain John Obi Mikel for example, the midfield dynamo held the hopes of Nigerians for years on end to fill in the boots of midfield king, Austin Jay Jay Okocha.
But Mikel plays and trains with Chelsea most of the 365 days the year has to offer and he isn't played in a role that allows him express himself so much so isn't it asking too much to expect him to come to the national team and in about five training sessions change from the mindset of an inhibitor to that of a catalyst? I think it is.
The Spanish are known for their quick circulation and stinginess in possession, passing the ball around until their opponent are dizzy and this isn't learned in 3 or 4 training sessions.
It is a tradition, a religion that has been tattooed in the impressionable mind of the raw talents of academy players ask around their country
Germany have endless work horses, who are a lot more direct and physical but very tactical.... They also have this registered in their minds as how football should be played
You might say these teams have world class players but let's take a look at the Italians
Not the most star studded bunch, mainly new players in the whole team but look at their exploits in the last 3 Euros, they have a philosophy they use as the bedrock of all their tactics a definite approach to the game
Nigeria has many talented players who play for top teams who hold the ball and build up patiently with the ball at the ground but coming to the national team the players have to switch to long balls even in the absence of a big man up front.
Football has evolved over the years and Nigeria has been left behind
Without a plan B, it seems the system is "if the long balls aren't working, try better long balls" and that is not a plan B.
Sometime ago, it was mooted on social media that the Super Eagles coaches, from Stephen Keshi to Sunday Oliseh and then Samson Siasia should have a word with
Ahmed Musa’s coach at CSKA Moscow to find out hidden things about him.
How come he plays every well for his club and scores well too but is almost incompetent at the national team?
The same applies to Odion Ighalo who runs around like a headless chicken at the national team but is the messiah at Watford?
The same could be said of Brown Ideye who averaged two goals in five games at his time at Dynamo Kiev but found it difficult scoring for the Super Eagles.
To the new man in charge Gernot Rohr, you might have your work cut out for you.
You might find out that you didn't bargain for a lot of issues that might come up (but then again you submitted copies of your contract to FIFA) so I guess you have an idea.
But to get this team clicking ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers you might have to
1. Pick out a squad you can work with
2. Play players in the positions they play for their clubs week in, week out
3. Please eliminate the predictable long ball strategies, or at least come up with a plan B that isn't "Modified Plan A"
4. Odion Ighalo does not thrive as the lone striker in a team, he may consider pairing him with someone else (the twin striker formation), maybe Brown Ideye who or Kelechi Iheanacho.
Ahmed Musa could be played on the left as we saw against Argentina at the World Cup as he has pace and once he cuts in he could beat the best keepers but on the right his crosses could be pretty poor
Victor Moses could do well on the right as his ability to beat players and deliver crosses will be useful to the team.
I think it is simple. Players will be more at home playing the way they do at their clubs while at their country because, they train with their clubs every day of the week and play weekly in those positions.
The national team is just four training sessions before games unless at a tournament, isn’t it?
These players thrive for their clubs playing in a particular position and a particular style, something that changes when they come back home, so Gernot Rohr must as a matter of urgency look into it.
And while we are at improvising on these, we could throw in some beautiful cheerleaders to give the players that gladiatorial feeling of not wanting to "fall their hands" in the presence of cute women.