Nigeria v Liberia Ratings: Iheanacho gets brace as Ndidi stands out
The senior Nigeria national football team-the Super Eagles, began their quest for a fourth consecutive qualification for the FIFA World Cup-Qatar 2022, with a comfortable 2-0 victory over west African neighbours, Liberia, in which Kelechi Iheanacho scored both goals in each half.
The match took place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos and the pitch managers did a great job for the surface to hold up after almost 12 hours of rain on Friday, September 3.
There were no surprises in the starting 11 as Gernot Rohr chose his tried and tested set of players. Moses Simon started ahead of Samuel Kalu, in what was a little tweak to the front three that also had Iheanacho, in a free role behind Victor Osimhen.
Here are the players’ ratings for the match:
Okoye’s third clean sheet in his eighth cap will be one of the easiest 90 minutes he has played in his career. Two times, he looked to be caught out of position in the second half, but one went wide and he saved the other. There will be more keen contests for the Eagles as they move closer to Qatar 2022 and AFCON next year.
Collins almost always looks like he is not ready for the occasion. In the absence of Zaidu Sanusi, the Paderborn defender did nothing to convince anybody that he has improved. He failed to add anything to attack, and the Liberians saw him as the weak link and attacked his position incessantly.
Ekong was easily rolled in the first when he ventured into central midfield, but he kept his composure to read and tackle efficiently. He has to improve his ball distribution, especially the diagonals that he tried on end, with little success.
Balogun repeatedly and confidently stepped out of defence with the ball at his feet and If not for overzealousness. He could have created goal-scoring chances with his forays.
Aina was tentative in the first half, marking space and not the man, but in the second half, he was more physical and joined the attack more often. His cross to Iheanacho should have been the third goal.
Ndidi, as usual, was his busy self, mopping up in front of his defenders and tried to send his mates on the attack promptly. He should have shot and maybe scored his first senior goal in the 54th minute when he won the ball and dribbled into the Liberian box, but he passed instead. His wait for a goal for the Eagles thus continues.
The Rangers midfielder was quiet throughout the encounter and though he made a forward foray in the 31st minute; his play lacked the energy and creativity that he normally brings.
Iwobi was energetic, opening for balls in the Liberian half of the pitch, and he tried to link up fast attacks, which were curtailed by the damp pitch. The assistant referee cruelly flagged one of his darting runs offside in the second half when replays clearly showed he was totally onside.
Simon was too one-dimensional and even though he had the beating of his marker, his crosses were not of the best quality.
Though Iheanacho scored a brace-his first goals for Nigeria since his goal against Tunisia in October 2020 in a friendly encounter. The Leicester man was wasteful in possession and looked for scoring chances instead of teeing up teammates.
Osimhen looked to be hampered by the soggy pitch and the long balls that were directed at him. He could have scored his sixth international goal a minute after half time but he took too long when the ball fell to him in the Liberian box.
The lanky striker misplaced his first pass as soon as he got on the pitch. He tried to press forward but the team was more concerned to keep a clean sheet.
Made some impressive dribbles in the 12 minutes he was on the pitch. He could get a start on Tuesday away to Cape Verde.
The almost-centurion came on and had time to be banged on the head.
Abdullahi replaced Iwobi
Etebo replaced Aribo
There is nothing to say about Rohr because he was just Rohr that we have now known for the last five years. Always looks like there is no input when the match is on and his substitutions still do not affect matches.
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