SUPER Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has revealed that he is not too disappointed with the performance of his team last night saying that he has taken many positives from the 0-1 loss to Algeria which he will act upon in the next match against Tunisia.
Last night, Nigeria lost to African champions Algeria in a friendly game at the Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, succumbing to a sixth minute goal from Borussia Monchengladbach defender Ramy Bensebaini. A Super Eagles side which including three starters making their full debuts, felt the effects of many regulars being absent.
With Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo of Glasgow Rangers and Ogene Etebo of Galatasaray absent, Nigeria was without her first choice midfield. This led to Rohr resorting the desperate measure of playing West Bromwich Albion centreback Semi Ajayi as his anchorman, leaving the burden of marshalling the midfield to Everton’s Alex Iwobi, who was by far Nigeria’s best player on the night, shinning like a thousand stars.
In goal, Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye made his first start for Nigeria, as did left back Zaidu Sanusi of Porto and central midfielder Frank Onyeka of Midtjylland. Upfront, Paul Onuachu of Belgian club Genk who was brought in as a late replacement for Victor Osimhen, was well out of his depth, unable to hold the ball up, resulting in the Eagles losing possession unnecessarily and moves breaking down willy nilly.
Despite all this, there were a few positives as Nigeria enjoyed 52% possession during the match and the two fullbacks in Tyronne Ebuehi and Zaidu Sanusi showed some promise. Algeria’s coach Djamel Belmadi, said Rohr disrupted his tactical plans with his starting line-up that included several unknown quantities.
Mr Belmadi said: “We had spotted two or three weaknesses that they could tactically have with certain players. Today, they actually played others so it disturbed some of the information I was able to give to the players a bit but they have adapted to this situation.”
“We responded well against a team which is tactically in good shape. We gave a physical response with a lot of intensity in the midfield and in the pressing. These are things that we were able to work on and I think our players have been almost perfect against a strong team.”
Mr Rohr used all six of his substitutions bringing on Mikel Agu, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Kevin Akpoguma, Moses Simon and Samson Tijani in the second half. However, the team was unable to break down a resolute Algerian defence and despite this Mr Rohr said he feels the game was a good test for his side.
He added: “This is a very good test for us as there were positives to pick from a tough game like this. “Now we have to recover well and start to plan for the next game on Tuesday against another tough team.”
Nigeria will hope to bounce back to winning ways against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia on Tuesday. yesterday, Tunisia were impressive as they beat Sudan 3-0 at the Stade Olympique de Radès in the coastal city of Radès.