Iwobi can do no wrong! Nigeria winners, losers and ratings in Algeria defeat

Alex Iwobi - NigeriaBackpagePix

Nigeria’s failure to take the game by the scruff of the neck after going into an early lead against Algeria was dispiriting.

Terem Moffi opened the scoring from close range after nine minutes in Oran, quietening the din inside the ground momentarily, and there was hope that Jose Peseiro’s men would go from strength to strength.

However, it seemed they shut down after going into that early lead. Rather than control the tempo of proceedings, the West African nation allowed Djamel Belmadi's side to regain control and strangle them for the majority of the encounter.

The absence of composure was evident in the rushed attacks and misplaced passes in their attacking transition.

Through it all, Alex Iwobi stood out. The Everton man is playing top-drawer stuff at the moment, and was Nigeria’s best player in the 2-1 defeat.

He had everything his teammates largely lacked: composure in possession, effective decision-making and execution.

  • Calvin BasseyGetty

    The Winners

    Winner: Alex Iwobi

    When Iwobi was not facilitating play from deeper areas, he was closing down opponents or blocking passing lanes.

    The Everton man’s decision-making with the ball was unmistakable and the willingness to release it quickly and execute efficiently was clear in Oran.

    He was undoubtedly Nigeria’s best performer on a night of disappointment.

    Winner: Calvin Bassey

    The versatile defender’s controlled aggression was distinctive in defeat and an inclination to get touch tight with the Algerians was commendable.

    Admittedly, this meant Bassey gave away fouls in the encounter, but the successes far outweighed the drawbacks as he gave the Super Eagles backline an edge in North Africa.

  • Cyriel Dessers NFF

    The Losers

    Loser: Zaidu Sanusi

    The left-back may have come close to a second-half assist to level proceedings but that was as good as it got for the Porto defender in Oran.

    Sanusi’s flawed execution in the first half led to promising counter-attacks breaking down. This was especially evident when he overhit a pass for Moses Simon down the left side which trickled out for a goal-kick and made a mess of a cross-field ball on another attacking transition that could have resulted in a second goal for the away side.

    Leaving his headed pass to Francis Uzoho short almost cost the Super Eagles an equaliser before the eventual collapse further emphasised the wide defender’s troubled night in Oran.

    Loser: Kelechi Iheanacho

    Super Eagles supporters got the full Iheanacho experience, without the goal to make fans overlook the striker’s shortcomings.

    His touch was intermittently heavy, the sloppiness in possession was frustrating and the inclination to shoot from distance was exasperating.

    Loser: Cyriel Dessers

    The Cremonese forward confidently spoke about ending his ongoing drought during the international break, a belief that was accompanied by the requisite follow-through against Algeria’s second-string side over the weekend.

    Thus, it was disappointing that Dessers got just five minutes off the bench when Nigeria chased an equaliser in Oran.

  • Francis Uzoho - NigeriaBackpagePix

    Nigeria Ratings: Defence

    Francis Uzoho (6/10)

    Another decent outing for the custodian who appears to be Jose Peseiro’s preferred pick between the sticks.

    Kevin Akpoguma (5.5/10)

    For a centre-back, Akpoguma was rather quiet in Tuesday’s defeat. A few interceptions were unmistakable, nonetheless.

    Calvin Bassey (7/10)

    Made crucial interventions in the first half and was dominant owing to his controlled aggression.

    Ola Aina (6/10)

    Testing night for the right-back who had to deal with Youcef Belaili for nearly every Algeria attack in the first half.

    Zaidu Sanusi (3/10)

    Nearly cost Nigeria with an under-hit headed back-pass and ruined two promising counter-attacks all in the opening half-hour.

  • Alex IwobiNFF

    Midfield

    Frank Onyeka (4/10)

    Rash in some of his tackles and unsurprisingly gave away the penalty leading to Algeria’s first-half equaliser.

    Alex Iwobi (7.5/10)

    Dropped deep to facilitate play and kept the ball moving with purpose. Out of possession, Iwobi put in the hard yards, continuing the top-class application that has been evident since the start of 2022-23.

    Nigeria’s best player in Oran.

  • Nigeria's Terem MoffiGetty

    Attack

    Moses Simon (7/10)

    The Nantes wide attacker was a threat in possession and caused issues for Algeria’s defence with his direct running.

    Ademola Lookman (6.5/10)

    Tried to link play with a series of one-time flicks in the early stages and looked to dribble with the ball as the game wore on.

    The Atalanta man had a legitimate goal ruled out. Shocking decision!

    Kelechi Iheanacho (5/10)

    A typical Iheanacho performance in which he was sloppy, giving away possession when keeping it was not a complicated task and shot at goal when passes to better-placed teammates were on.

    Terem Moffi (6.5/10)

    Opened the scoring for the Super Eagles and was unlucky to be flagged offside after setting up Lookman for what would have put Peseiro’s team 2-0 up.

  • Jose Peseiro - Getty Images

    Subs & Manager

    Saviour Godwin (5/10)

    Godwin replaced Lookman with 22 minutes remaining but made little impact, failing to direct a cross into play from a promising position.

    Taiwo Awoniyi (4/10)

    The centre-forward came on for Moffi and struggled to get a kick. Nothing Awoniyi tried came off in the loss.

    Cyriel Dessers (N/A)

    Dessers replaced Iheanacho with five minutes remaining.

    Raphael Onyedika (N/A)

    Onyedika came on for Onyeka in the closing minutes of the game.

    Jose Peseiro (4/10)

    Unsurprisingly continued with a 4-4-2 but the timing of substitutions was questionable.

    The Portuguese tactician’s utilisation of Dessers disappointed. He was raring to go against Algeria, and Onyedika, who could have got more game time.