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The national team needs strengthening in various areas ahead of the second leg against the Lone Star and eventually for the Nations Cup

ANALYSIS
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor

The 2-2 draw away in Monrovia has raised so many questions concerning the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the thrust of most of the questions is whether the Nigerian team can ever reach the level of the 1994 set - the best ever Super Eagles.

Goal.com looks at five things that was learnt about the team

THE EAGLES NEED A NEW FULCRUM IN DEFENCE

With Joseph Yobo on his last legs, a new fulcrum is needed quickly before the Nations Cup in four months’ time. The alternatives though younger than the Fenerbahce defender, do not look as promising.

The Super Eagles of 1994 – the reference point for any of the national teams had defenders who could at least hold their own against African opponents and could lock up shop when it was needed. But the present team has a bad habit of conceding goals when they should be holding on.

Against Egypt in Dubai, against Malawi and now against Liberia, the Eagles have let good positions slip. Maybe the technical crew have to call in the likes of Michael Odibe, Dele Adeleye and Yusuf Ayilla to come in and help shore up the defence. God forbid, if Yobo gets injured in the first match in South Africa – if we get there, who will be his replacement? That question must be answered quickly as the clock is ticking very fast.

MIKEL & ODEMWINGIE SHOULD CONTINUE TO STAY AWAY
The last time these two guys were called up to help Nigeria qualify for the Nations Cup was about a year ago and all Nigerians got on that occasion was heart-break. As they have not played for the national team for the last four matches, Stephen Keshi will do well to shun pressures to invite the two England-based players.

There is no doubting their abilities but at this time – four weeks to the second leg against Liberia, the move will at best be divisive among the player ranks who have stood resolutely by their coach – whether on natural grass or Astro-turf.
VINCENT ENYEAMA NEEDS A BATTLE TO STAY IN TOP SHAPE
 Vincent Enyeama has become complacent as the Super Eagles guardian and that could be because he does not have a credible opponent for the No.1 jersey. The first question to ask is, are there alternatives? – credible ones that can stand the test of time and the answer is no.

So what do we do with Enyeama, who shone like a million stars at the 2010 World Cup but whose club career has gone down-hill since then? Now he is back to Israel and hopefully his reflexes will be restored to the point where he will be solid for the national team again.

Those that are supposed to be ready to take his jersey say they will wait for their time. “Well, I am not too much in a hurry. Enyeama is a world-class goalkeeper and I am still learning from him. But I strongly believe that my time will soon come,” said Chigozie Agbim. But when that will be is anybody’s guess.
KESHI MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT CONCEDING LATE GOALS

 
In the last two qualifying matches against Malawi and Liberia, the Super Eagles have lost winning positions late in the games. Yes, Keshi was a super defender in his days and maybe he has to clone somebody of his on stature that will help glue the defence together.

Yobo complained of unfamiliarity with the defenders he played with in Liberia and he was substituted towards the end of the game. It is clear that the technical crew need to focus on the back line.

AFRICAN COUNTRIES WILL DO ANYTHING TO WIN AT HOME

The tricks that Liberia sprung on the Super Eagles should not have surprised either Keshi or the Aminu Maigari-led Nigeria Football Federation. When it comes to football, countries will do anything to get the upper hand and the good thing was that through all the intimidation and bad hosting, the Eagles left Monrovia with a credible draw.

The choice of a sub-standard hotel, inability to train on the pitch, making an inconvenient bus available are all part of what is called ‘home-advantage’ in Africa. The Eagles were lucky that masquerades did not suddenly proclaim a dance festival near their hotel windows.

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