The 1-0 loss by the super eagles against Czech republic on Wednesday has drawn mixed reaction from the Nigerian media.
In a rain-soaked encounter played in Rannersdorf, Austria, some players impressed while others disappointed.
Defensive midfield Wilfred Ndidi made his long-awaited return from injury, and it was clear to see what the Eagles midfield had been missing.
He joined Mikel Obi in attack and also assisted ever-reliable John Ogu in snuffing life out of the Czech attackers.
“Returned and immediately showed his class with strong runs and almost scored with a well hit shot carved out of nothing. Clearly the livewire of this Nigerian team,” wrote Osas Mahawi of football site own goalnigeria.
James Agberebi of complete sports also agreed with this verdict.
“Wednesday’s game saw the return of Wilfred Ndidi who missed the Super Eagles last two friendlies and gave a good account of himself.”
Ndidi added dynamism into the midfield of the super eagles, which should be vital against a Croatian midfield consisting of Modric and Rackitic.
Ebuehi to displace Shehu
When the super eagles faced the three lions of England on Saturday, consistent right-back Shehu Abdullahi found it very difficult against English speed star Raheem Sterling and wing-back Ashley Young.
He was replaced by Tyrone Ebuehi in the second-half and the young Dutch-Nigerian thwarted attacks from his flanks and joined in the Eagles offensive moves which was sustained till the final whistle.
The same scenario played out on Wednesday as Shehu failed to hold down the East Europeans and was in no position to give the needed verve to Nigeria’s attack forays.
As soon as Ebuehi came in as substitute, there was a clear difference.
The media observation was unanimous.
“Like the last game against England had a game to forget. Looked lost in his role as a wing-back and from all indication he has played himself out of the team for the opening game against Croatia,” Osas Mahawi wrote.
He described Ebuehi’s impact on the game.
“Solid display from the newly signed Benfica right back. Sure to start against Croatia base on the strength of his performance in the last two games. Attacks and defends well , a trait which brought stability to the entire Nigerian team in the second half.”
Emmanuel Chinaza, staff writer with football site all allnigeriasoccer gave his own verdict.
“(Abdullahi Shehu) conjured up little from the far right and proved little attacking option. Kept passes simple; (Ebuehi) brought on his athleticism and made a lot of defense-splitting sprints down the right.”
Prolific sports writer and commentator Collins Udo said the Eagles coaching crew must correct obvious laspes now if the team intended to make an impact in Russia.
“Poor organisation at set pieces, and a lack of cutting edge up front condemns the Super Eagles to a second straight friendly defeat. Tons of work still to be done. Do they ave the time,” he asked.
FT: Nigeria 0-1 Czech Republic.
Poor organisation at set pieces, and a lack of cutting edge up front condemns the Super Eagles to a second straight friendly defeat. Tons of work still to be done. Do they ave the time? #Team9jaStrong #NGACZE
— Colin NOT Collins (@ColinUdoh) June 6, 2018
With the cycle of friendlies over, Nigeria will face Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in a testing Group D in Russia, with their World Cup opener against Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday, June 16.
They will be based in Yessentuki, by the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia.