SUPER Eagles head coach Sunday Oliseh has been advised by former national team goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach Joseph Erico to use Manchester City playmaker Kelechi Iheanacho as his playmaker.
Erico, who manned goal for the Super Eagles in the early 1970s and went on to become a successful club coach before becoming the national team’s goalkeeping coach, is a veteran of Nigerian football. He advised Oliseh to use the Manchester City youngster as his creative spark that will create goals for the team.
Since former skipper Austin Jay Jay Okocha retired from football, Nigeria has struggled to create goals and Erico believes Iheanacho might just be the one to fill the vacuum. He added that he believes that Iheanacho, voted the best player at the 2013 U-17 World Cup which Nigeria won, has the ability to create chances for the Eagles strikers to score from.
Erico said: “Iheanacho is currently in blistering form for his club and he can replicate same for the Eagles. The main issue with the team is that they lack a player who can create the chances for the strikers to score from.
“Odion Ighalo is doing well for his club because of the service of his club’s midfielders and also that of his strike partner but that is not the same with the Eagles. As we saw at the last Championship of African Nations (Chan) tournament and some of his other matches, Oliseh is making use of the wings mostly but a good defender will stop your wingers and neutralise them. When you have a creative player in the midfield, the team can switch from wing play to another pattern when that fails.”
In brilliant form at the moment, Iheanacho has scored a total of nine goals this season despite being used largely as a substitute. Last Sunday, he came off the bench to score an equaliser for his club, although Manchester City later succumbed to a 1-2 home loss to Tottenham Hotspurs.
“Oliseh should deploy Iheanacho in the central midfield role and allow the duo of Mikel and any other defensive midfielder back him up. Iheanacho was a central midfielder in his U-17 days and he has a lot of skills to fit into the role, so it will be a waste to deploy him in another role apart from the central midfield,” Erico added.