Nigeria at the Wafu Cup
Nigeria’s Wafu Cup of Nations campaign ended after two matches, as Imama Amapakabo’s side returned home after back-to-back defeats, and landed in Abuja on Wednesday evening.
The Super Eagles were dispatched by Togo in their opening fixture, before losing on penalties against Cape Verde in their second fixture following a 1-1 draw.
Who were the key under-performers for the national side, and which players can return home with their heads held high?
Too Good: Fatai Gbadamosi
The Shooting Stars midfield man impressed for Nigeria, demonstrating his qualities as a midfield general and a reference point for those players around him.
He tackled effectively, protecting those behind him, and will be a valuable asset for the U-23 team at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
At this rate, expect the midfielder to return to Europe before too long.
Too Bad: Olisa Ndah
Ndah’s qualities are easy to see, he’s a tall, athletic, powerful centre-back, with an excellent touch and fine technique.
He has immense potential, but the Wafu Cup clearly didn’t go to plan, as he scored one own goal and made notable errors for the Eagles’ other two goals.
It’s not too much to say that the defender was primarily culpable for each of Nigeria’s goals, although the stand-in captain will hopefully learn and grow from his experiences in Senegal.
Too Good: Reuben Bala
At times, there was a certain hesitancy on the part of Bala when he found himself in goalscoring situations but didn’t pull the trigger.
He also missed a penalty in the shootout defeat by Cape Verde, but nonetheless left a good impression in the tournament.
He demonstrated fine technique, pace and agility across Nigeria’s two matches, and was responsible for the Eagles’ opener against Cape Verde with a fine dribble to set up Sikiru Alimi.
It will be fascinating to see how the young wideman fares during Enyimba’s continental campaign.
Too Bad: Mfon Udoh
The captain was one of several experienced players introduced to the side by coach Amapakabo to support the younger players in the squad and offer their nous to help the team negotiate the Wafu Cup.
The strategy didn’t really work, as Udoh was introduced from the bench to make an impact against Togo with Nigeria trailing, only to receive a red card to leave his team in the lurch.
There’s no doubt that the forward let the Eagles down, and he was suspended for the team’s second—and subsequently final—game against Cape Verde.
How Nigeria could have done with Udoh keeping his composure during those final stages of the opening game!
Too Good: John Lazarus
Lazarus wasn’t flawless at the Wafu Cup, but against Togo he was much improved, having struggled in the 4-1 African Nations Championship defeat by the Sparrow Hawks.
Overall, he demonstrated a good touch, was composed in possession, and his crossing asked questions of the opposition.
Positionally, he was also astute, and will surely improve with the challenges to come.