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Five takeaways from Nigeria's Nations Cup draw in South Africa

In the end, Nigeria and South Africa settled for a point apiece in their grudge 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Johannesburg.

Samuel Kalu orchestrated the Nigerian lead within the opening 15 minutes, but Percy Tau engineered a comeback, assisting Lebo Mothiba to draw Bafana Bafana level.

The point proved enough for the Super Eagles to seal their ticket to Cameroon, but Bafana still have it all to do against Libya next March.

Here are five observations from the game from Nigeria's point of view:


How Gernot Rohr would have rued the absence of Wilfred Ndidi. The Leicester man was suspended after he picked up two bookings in the last qualifiers.

Without him, the Super Eagles midfield looked slow, ponderous and all over the shop. Tackles were lost, interceptions missed, and passing laboured.

Oghenekaro Etebo did well to run himself aground trying to make up for deficiencies elsewhere, but even he had his own struggles. And the usually imperious Alex Iwobi struggled under the elevation and heat.


It did not work at the World Cup, and it is not quite shaping up here. Okay, it looked good for half of one game against Iceland, but this Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho partnership does not seem to be what the doctor ordered.

Rohr playing three at the back was an inspired decision, and took the South Africans by surprise. However, while the combo looked good with some fine interpassing at the beginning of the game, it just drifted out gradually.

The introduction of Isaac Success breathed some life back into it but by then Musa was suffering the effects of the altitude.

Perhaps Iheanacho's lack of form may have something to do with it, but it might be time to see a different partnership when next Rohr lines up like that. Musa/Isaac may prove more of a success.


It has always been evident, but with the Nations Cup approaching, Rohr might need to spend more time working on his team's pressing.

It is a recurrent problem, but one which does not appear to be seeing any progress. Not even the introduction of the big John Ogu helped matters.

The players press haphazardly, no coordination, no teamwork. As a result, they get bypassed with a single ball, or a single move.

No time was it more evident than when Tau walked his way in behind a flat line to set up Mothiba for the goal.


Moses Simon has been fuming for the last couple of games. The forward, who has only just returned from injury, has found his spot taken by the excellent and ever-improving Samuel Kalu.

But what irks the Levante forward to no end is how he has been excluded from the matchday squad three games in succession.

That may be an issue, but with Kalu's current form, it is hard to see Simon -- a Rohr favourite -- making his way back into the first team, at least not immediately. The Bordeaux man has been so good that it would be a serious injustice for Rohr to drop him.

Simon will have to bide his time and make the best of his chance when he gets it, as is very likely, against Uganda. But Kalu will continue to be the starter.


Ikechukwu Ezenwa had practically nothing to do all game. But the one thing he could have done and failed miserably at, was in his deliveries.

Almost every ball the Enyimba keeper tried to send to his players went to the wrong place, either for a throw-in, or to the opposition.

And it is not just an Ezenwa issue. Even Francis Uzoho has the same challenge. Goalkeeper trainer Alloy Agu needs to start working on the goalies to improve their service to the front.

Vincent Enyeama's deliveries were usually the first point of attack for Nigeria. These days, that option is gone.

At the Nations Cup, with margins so thin, it will be necessary for the goalies to do more than save goals.


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