The Super Eagles class of 2016 set a record on Sunday at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, by beating the Chipolopolo of Zambia 2-1.
It was the first time that a senior national team of Nigeria had gone and beat a Zambian team on home soil.
And to make that win sweeter was Algeria and Cameroon playing out a 1-1 in the other Group B match. So, as we speak, the Super Eagles have a two-point advantage over both Cameroon and Algeria, in what would be a tight group but here are the seven things we saw of the Eagles.
We need a new left back
It has been a steady decline for the Super Eagles but so much so at the left back position. If Fwayo Tembo could do a number on Elderson Echiejile last Sunday, then imagine what would be defender’s fate when he faces Riyad Mahrez next month in Uyo. Rohr has to dig deep to get a more capable player in place for Algeria or there is a drastic upturn in form for the new Standard Liege player.
Balogun cannot return quicker
There have been doubts about Kenneth Omeruo for some time now and those doubts grew on Sunday as he contrived to hand Zambia a lifeline. As a central defender, you cannot afford to make silly mistakes, because they invariably lead to the opposition getting a chance to score, which Collins Mbesuma did. At the moment, we will have to pray for Leon Balogun to be up to speed by the time we host Algeria in November.
Rohr has shown his mean streak
It was quite remarkable that Gernot Rohr chose to drop Ahmed Musa for Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon – those two decisions showed a manager, who would not be swayed by bias. He did not see what he wanted from Musa in training and dropped him. That would have sent a message to the group of players that every position is up for grabs.
Thank God for Ikeme
Though he almost committed a howler in the second minute, Carl Ikeme proved to a splendid ball stopper against the Zambians on Sunday. On at least two occasions, he blocked certain goals and he had no chance for the Mbesuma goal. After the heroics of the retired Vincent Enyeama, the Eagles seem to have another safe pair of hands in goal.
Lineup according to the opposition
When Ndidi Wilfred was revealed in the starting XI, many were surprised and were more surprised when he took his place at right back. It showed that Rohr and his team after their tactical SWOT analysis of the Zambians decided that they needed a man-marker to occupy Rainford Kalaba. And even though he had hiccups with the fleet-footed forward, he was steady and did not bomb forward and leave gaps that a Musa Mohammed and Shehu Abdullahi could have done.
Beating Algeria is very important
Now that the Eagles have taken control of the top spot in Group B, they need to follow that up with a home win against Algeria. It is heartening to hear that all their allowances have been settled so the players are not grumbling. The Nigeria Football Federation has to continue in this line by ensuring that all the fit players are engaged for the Algeria match.
Eagles need an aggressive forward
Even though, the Eagles managed two goals, the game against Zambia showed a lack of aggression in forward areas. Brown Ideye tried his best but he largely did not trouble the defensive pair of Adrian Chama and Stoppilla Sunzu. Against a better side in Algeria, Rohr needs to find a striker, who would be a constant pest for defenders.
That is that; the game in Ndola was a success – we now have to look forward and ensure that we do not let slip this lead until the end of the campaign, while praying that Zambia will get better at home!