Having secured progress to the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Cameroon next year after going unbeaten, Gernot Rohr’s team ought to start preparations for the showpiece in earnest.
Stars like Victor Osimhen thrived throughout qualifying, scoring five times and assisting as many, and the frontman is expected to dominate in the Central African nation in 2021.
However, while the Napoli striker was in fine form for the majority of qualifying, a few of Rohr’s team need to make headway before the start of the continental showpiece if Nigeria are to claim a fourth African title.
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Despite an encouraging campaign on loan at Fulham, Aina has largely been average for the Super Eagles, with Saturday’s performance at Benin a perfect example.
Gernot Rohr’s chopping and changing at right-back in the last few years suggests he hasn’t quite settled on any of the options in that position, with Tyronne Ebuehi featuring in Tuesday’s 3-0 success over Lesotho.
Given the right berth is up for grabs, the former Chelsea defender has to up his game if he’s to be the primary option at the showpiece.
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Even though Sanusi’s initial encouraging displays for the national team hinted at a permanent solution to the side’s issues at left-back, the Porto wide defender underwhelmed vs Benin and Lesotho.
He lacked the usual menace down that flank and was seldom a trusted attacking threat in both encounters.
His brightest moment against the Squirrels nearly resulted in Henry Onyekuru scoring, and Rohr needs more than mere fleeting shows of his quality when Afcon finally comes around.
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A star in Glasgow, Aribo is near unrecognisable when representing Nigeria.
While his struggles are admittedly mostly down to being manacled in a two-man midfield, both manager and player have to find ways to profit from the slick midfield man’s talent.
Oghenekaro Etebo’s amazing showing against Lesotho demonstrated why he’s a better fit for the side if the current formation is kept in Cameroon.
A possible Aribo solution will be deploying him as a wide playmaker on the right, a position currently occupied by Chukwueze who continues to frustrate.
The winger not only frustrates with his predictable movement, but a tendency also to rush or overcomplicate attacks with his decision-making continues to exasperate observers.
With the competition for places in the wide positions, the Villarreal attacker has to up his game to remain an important component in Rohr’s set-up.
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Given the uncertainty around the wide positions — owing to the form and fitness of possible wide attackers — Onyekuru could stake a claim for a place in the XI in Cameroon.
The on-loan Galatasaray attacker did okay in the first-half against Benin, missing Nigeria’s best chance of the half, but declined as the game progressed.
He did assist Paul Onuachu’s strike vs Lesotho on Tuesday, which does his prospects a world of good.
Regardless, maintaining that level of consistency for club and country is imperative if Onyekuru features prominently at Afcon.