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Much to think about for Oliseh

Sunday Oliseh’s baptism of fire in Dar-es-Salaam

Nigeria played out a 0-0 draw in the first match under new coach Sunday Oliseh in an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania at Dar-es-Salaam.

Oliseh, appointed in July, has only had the full squad together for a few days and didn’t have a chance to try things out in friendlies before yesterday’s match. And this showed in the absence of cohesion in the team. The coach said after the match: “We have to continue to build. We barely had two good days of training before this match. So I am happy with the one point”.

Nigeria’s standout player was debutant and Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, with at least three world class saves that earned his side the draw. Ikeme’s handling of crosses was steady and reassuring, as would be expected for a keeper that is 6ft 3in. He said it was a “great honour to make my debut of the Super Eagles”. Coach Oliseh was full of praise: “I don’t like to single out players from the team, but I have to admit that Carl Ikeme had a great game for us today”.

Safe pair of hands: Ikeme provides solid competition to Enyeama
Safe pair of hands: Ikeme provides solid competition for the Number One spot with Enyeama

The Super Eagles were missing first choice goalie and captain Vincent Enyeama, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Victor Moses. With the exception of the superb Ikeme, none of the replacements for those players showed that they were ready to hold down a regular spot. Haruna Lukman and Obiora Nwankwo did not look like they belong at this level.

Oliseh’s new look team showed some promise of playing a passing game, but lacked the quality to open up Tanzania. There was no creative spark in midfield and the crosses from the flanks were poor and predictable. The team may benefit from an injection of quality from the likes of Watford’s Odion Ighalo and return from injury of Torino’s Joel Obi.

The Super Eagles top Group G with four points, with their next qualifier against Egypt in March next year.

They play a friendly against Niger on Tuesday in Port Harcourt and Oliseh would be looking to use that opportunity to get the team to gel a bit more.

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