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Poland 0 – 1 Nigeria : Five things we saw from a ‘professional’ Eagles

Super-Eagles Uzoho and Obi show polished performances
The 19-year-old goalkeeper was a bundle of nerves when the game kicked off even though Poland did nothing attacking wise in the first five minutes. When the attacks came, Uzoho was caught undecided in making swift decisions but as the game progressed, his confidence grew and he communicated more effectively with his defensive partners. Rohr will be glad to have called up Joel Obi as he showed the mobility and tenacity that will doubtless enhance the Eagles’ midfield. Making a comeback after almost four years away took intelligence to blend with the team after three days of training together.
Defending set pieces and committing cheap fouls is still an Achilles heel
The only time the Eagles were in real danger of conceding a goal was when the Poles had corner kicks and free kicks around the box. Twice Artur Jędrzejczyk got on the end of crosses but could not direct his header powerfully. Uzoho made a save on one and the other bounced and cleared the crossbar. Shehu Abdullahi and Brian Idowu also tried to compensate for runners in behind them by fouling before the box – on another day the Eagles could have been punished more seriously. In his post-match interview, Rohr agreed when he said, “They created some big opportunities to score and were dangerous from set pieces that we found difficult to cope with.”
The high press must be fine-tuned
The Eagles pressed the Poles into going long and making mistakes but one time when Poland got free of that press, they created their best chance to score in the 55th minute through Lewandowski. The press, despite being a good tactic, must be total – not half-hearted. If one player decides to hold back and not join the horde could see a breakaway situation for the opponent. The whole team has to move as a unit forward so that gaps are not created between the forwards, the midfielders, and the defenders.
Gernot Rohr showed all his abilities in organising and putting forward a template to stifle a good side from accomplishing their purpose. He is also developing a team of players that understand the system employed and how to defend and attack as a unit. He believes there are still steps to be taken as properly captured by the manager. “This team is a young team but also a team of leaders. If we stay humble and continue to work hard to improve our play we have huge potentials, but beating 2 FIFA top 10 teams in friendlies doesn’t mean we are now World Cup favourites.” Everybody, keep your feet on the ground as one thing is certain, the Eagles will not be disgraced in Russia!

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