So much has been said about the current crop of attackers in the Super Eagle’s team and they have left no one in doubt by churning out world-class performances across Europe’s top leagues.
The Italian Serie A, for example, had glimpses of what Victor Osimhen could do in front of the goal in his few appearances for Napoli after he netted 10 goals.
The French Ligue 1, on the other hand, saw the dazzling displays of Terem Moffi who scored 16 goals, with Kelechi Iheanacho joining the fray in the Premier League, netting 19 goals in all competitions.
Simy Nwankwo was also a shining light in the Italian Serie A as he netted 20 goals in what was a very impressive season for him and then there’s Paul Onuachu who was on fire all season with a haul of 35 goals in the Belgian Jupiler League.
These guys were in the form of their lives and Nigerians anticipate them replicating their form with the national team.
As it stands, however, Super Eagles’ Coach, Gernot Rohr plays with only one striker and that is Victor Osimhen but he’s had a rather awkward season where he was down with a shoulder injury and also testing positive to the coronavirus at some point.
Other on-form players couldn’t simply be ignored as we all admit the national team needs as much firepower it can get, which means the coach should be looking to accommodate all firepower at his disposal.
I watched the Frankfurt team that competed in the 2018/2019 German Bundesliga season under Coach Adi Hutter and I saw a couple of things Coach Rohr could borrow and that’s the way he arranged his frontline and the roles and duties they had in the team.
From the image above, he had Ante Rebic (now at AC Milan) who’s primarily a left-winger and sometimes a center-forward. He also had Sebastian Haller (formerly of West ham United but now at Ajax FC in Holland) who was primarily a target man and finally Luka Jovic (now at Real Madrid) who was a deadly finisher.
These three combined countless times to earn Frankfurt a 7th place finish in the German Bundesliga, with Luka Jovic netting 27 goals and 7 assists in all competitions, Ante Rebic had 10 goals in all competitions while Sebastian Haller had 20 goals in all competitions with 12 assists.
These three attackers knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and tormented opponents from every angle possible.
How do we relate this to Nigeria?
Kelechi Iheanacho’s form earned him a recall to the Super Eagles’ fold after missing out in the squad to the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Then there’s a case for the man who pipped him to make the AFCON squad and also took his shirt number “14” Paul Onuachu who has been a goal-scoring sensation from his days at FC Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga where he scored 74 goals in 181 appearances.
He’s already scored 45 in 70 appearances for current club KRC Genk in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League.
Victor Osimhen has however been Nigeria’s best forward for a while so adding these two in-form attackers to start alongside him would not only relieve him of the pressure of being the sole attacker, but also the freedom to get into better goal scoring chances while still assisting his strike partners.
In the case of Frankfurt, Paul Onuachu is a striker in the mold of Sebastian Haller as they are both tall and lanky with the ability to contest and win balls in the air. Bringing Onuachu into the starting lineup would add another dimension to Nigeria’s attack.
Luka Jovic is a deadly finisher, and just like Victor Osimhen, they are both pacey and strong with an eye for goal.
Ante Rebic was the withdrawn man for Frankfurt as he operated just behind Haller and Jovic. He also had the license to roam into space where he could exploit and this is a role Kelechi Iheanacho has played from his junior category days and has recaptured this last season when he played behind Jamie Vardy at Leicester.
He is naturally a player drawn towards the ball as he comes deep to pick it up and then turns to either find a teammate or shoots.
Nigeria’s current system is built on wing play as the team is blessed with very pacey wingers in Samuel Chukwueze, Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu, Moses Simon, Chidera Ejuke and so many others.
This means that a move to a slightly narrow system of play may not be able to accommodate some of these guys but then there can always be a plan B which could be the use of these wingers to stretch the play.
In conclusion, Gernot Rohr has an abundance of attacking talent at his disposal in the Super Eagle and they are all in blazing form but he needs to find ways to accommodate them together in the team so as to increase the firepower upfront whilst still maintaining balance in other areas of the field.