Super Eagles AFCON attack: This looks good, but…

In terms of individual abilities and profile, Nigeria’s strike force heading to the Africa Cup of Nations was by a mile, the best in Africa.

The country had the likes of Victor Osimhem, Victor Boniface, Terem Moffi, Paul Onuachu, Ademola Lookman, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanachi, Emmanuel Dennis Cyril Dessers and Umar Sadiq in its shortlist of players for the tournament.

The coach of the Super Eagles even had the luxury of dropping Terem Moffi, Paul Onuachu, Emmanuel Dennis, and Cyril Dessers, before injury hit his team.

But shortly after Jose Peseiro opted for a team of 25 five players, injuries struck. First in midfield was Wilfred Ndidi who had to leave the team, then Kelechi Iheanacho a doubt, before Victor Boniface and Umar Sodiq were forced to pull out. Boniface was replaced with Terem Moffi while Paul Onuachu took the place of Umar Sodiq.

The Eagles would have been great

Injury knocked out Victor Boniface

The Super Eagles would have been unplayable if they had the full complement of their strikers going to the AFCON, and this is what Andrew Randa, a football writer based in Kontagora thinks.

“We have probably the best attack in Africa. If not for the injuries, we would have been going to the AFCON with an unplayable side,” Andrew Randa told

“Victor Osimhem, Victor Boniface, Umar Sodiq, Samuel Chukwueze, Lookman Ademola, Moses Simon and Kelechi Iheanacho are probably the best legs in that position in Africa, but I guess the coach will be changing his plans,” Randa said.

How the Eagles may play

In the absence of Boniface and Umar, plus the uncertainty hanging over Kelechi Iheanacho, it is expected that the Super Eagles will start with Osimhen and Moffi with Chukwueze and Ademola Lookman flanking them. And this will be if the coach decides to opt for a 4-4-2, but again, with Moffi’s late arrival in camp, Peseiro may just opt for a 4-3-3.

If he goes for a 4-3-3 then it will certainly be Victor Osimhen, then Chukwueze and Lookman playing from the wings.

Terem Moffi replaced Victor Boniface

“Towards the end of 2023, Peseiro played Victor Osimhem and Boniface upfront, and I would have loved to see that combination with either Ademola Lookman and Moses Sissmon flanking them,” Randa said.

But there is a difference between the Super Eagles attack in terms of output in the current season to what the players offered a season ago.

Between Lookman, Osimhem, Iheanacho, Simon, Chukwueze, Moffi, Musa and Onuachu, there were 264 games between them in the 2022/23 season and they scored a total of 93 goals. In the current season, the same players have a combined total of 134 games played and 41 goals scored.

Another thing about the set of players in the team attack is that they are not good goal providers. In 134 games played between them this season, there have only been 19 assists, the highest number, 5 coming from Moses Simon.

How will this team play together? Would it be each man wanting to score his own goal or will they, actually be working for each other for the benefit of the team?

“I also want to see how Peseiro will line them up and how the midfield will provide the ammunition they need to deliver the goods,” Randa said.

“We are focussed on the attack scoring goals, but I think we need a minute to ask ourselves how these players work for each other to score and again how the midfield works with them.”

“We have a good attack, but will they get the supplies? And even if they do, will they utilize it.”

Victor Osimhem is a runner. He can smell a goal and go for it. He is like a dangerous fox in the pack of hens. He goes for the kill, but he needs bodies around to complement his efforts.

Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman on the flanks is not as sleek as Humphrey Edobor in the 80s, neither does he has the speed and power play of Adokiye Amiesimaka. He is also not a wide player. But what he lacks in providing width, he adds in his presence in the penalty area more often than not when the Eagles are attacking. He also adds goals to the team. Chukwueze, like Moses Simon, dribbles well and can be a threat in the final third, but the AC Milan boy is yet to assert himself with the Super Eagles.

Moses Simon

When things become tight for Nigeria, Moses Simon can be called upon to unlock a water-tight defence with his mazy dribble runs right through the center, while Onuachu will come in handy when the team resorts to long balls and crosses. Incidentally, the kind of inverted wingers Nigeria has these days do not do much of crossing the ball.

Onuachu coming into the game will be a good change in plans if playing through the middle does not work.

In all, Nigeria’s attack at the AFCON still stands as one of the best, but it all counts for nothing if they do not get the balls from midfield and also fail to utilize their chances when they come.

Like Yakubu Aiyegbeni said while he played for Portsmouth, “Feed me and I will score.”

If the strikers are not fed, the Super Eagles will lack goals.

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