The Nigeria team might be out of the Russia 2018 world cup but a lot of positives were grabbed from the outing and these positives could prove vital in determination of the fate of the Nigerian team in future competition. The Nigeria team crashed out of the World cup after losing to old foes Argentina 2-1 in their last game of the group stages despite being backed by great betting odds. Gernot Rohr’s side began with a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation before adjusting to a 3-5-2 formation. Prior to the current edition of the World football tournament, the Super eagles have never tried to field 3 players at the back due to the disadvantages it brings to the side but exploited the option in the current edition of the world cup despite the effects it has on the players.
Nigeria as a football nation came into international limelight with a 4-4-2 formation back in the 90’s with 2 center forwards and two pace wingers. The formation boasted by the talented players available at the time was key to the team’s success in both World and Continental tournament as Nigeria dominated the football scenes of the continent for a while. The employment of late Steven Keshi brought a new approach to the Super eagles as the late tactician adopted a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 formation during his term with the eagles. The approach proved to be effective as the Super eagles lifted the 2013 African Cup of Nations trophy in South Africa as well as a reputable round 16 finish in the 2014 edition of the world cup.
Gernot Rohr seems to have brought another tactic that if effectively managed well could usher the footballing nation to another era considering its effectiveness in the world cup. Prior to the introduction of the 3-5-2 formation, the super eagles lacked the precision, stability and grip of their game. Their deployment of 4-2-3-1 formation in the opening game against Croatia resulted in a shambolic football as the team completely repelled by the Croatia team who closed up the channels linked the attackers and midfielders.
The team’s lack of the stability in both the middle of the park and offensive positions had bad effects on their game as they were placed at the back foot. The advent of the 3-5-2 formation against Iceland in the second match brought a slow but effective approach as the Super eagles busted into the life in the second interval of the game. The Nigerian team despite losing to the Abiceleste in their final game put up a dominant display as the Argentine team.
A closer look at the formation with respect to the Nigerian performance have also affirmed while the tactics indeed possesses untapped potentials with the present crop of players. The trio of Leon Balogun, Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo looked to solidify the backline in their 2 games. While Lionel Messi’s goal was a touch of class, the Argentine Talisman was virtually a spectator in the game as the spaces were closed.
The deployment of Ndidi and Etebo in central midfield with Mikel as the holding midfielder at the middle of the park was almost perfect as youthful adventures were complimented with experienced game control. It also provided a new habitat for Mikel who looks to be approaching the end of football career. Victor Moses excelled in his wingback role as he kept Angel Di Maria quiet in the game. While Brown Idowu offered relatively little in attack, the emergence of Tyronne Ebuehi offers alternative approach in the role. The Attacking department was not left out as the position provided versatility which caused opponent huge problems.
Nigerian team for the first time played without a recognized center forward in a competitive game with Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Ihenacho who were given freedom to roam about and this could be new habitat for new generation of attackers. Nigeria’s adventure in Russia is certainly over but the time for to go back to the draw board and prepare for Qatar 2022 world cup began from now as a lot of positives can be taken from the outing despite the early exit.