Nigeria is aiming for her fourth continental title in the next edition of the championship, and a former youth international has given his verdict regarding the state of preparedness of Gernot Rohr’s team
The Head Coach of American Second Division side, FC Tulsa, Michael Nsien, is impressed with the attacking quality of the Super Eagles. Still, he has urged more work on the team’s defence if Rohr’s side holds the ambition of winning the next AFCON in Cameroon.
Nigeria boast one of Africa’s most talented bunch of attackers with the likes of Simy Nwankwo, Victor Osimhen, Cyriel Dessers, and Emmanuel Dennis impressing in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium respectively during this past season.
Osimhen’s scoring feat for Lille, in particular, earned him a move to Serie A giants Napoli in what is one of the most expensive African transfers in history.
It was, however, a tough year for Nigerian defenders in Europe, with the trio of Chidozie Awaziem, Kenneth Omeruo, and Jamilu Collins suffering relegation in Spain and Germany.
Both Udinese’s William Troost-Ekong and Torino’s Ola Aina faired only a bit better, narrowly avoiding the drop in Italy. Semi Ajayi is the exception, though, with the Nigerian centre-back impressively helping West Brom gain promotion to the English Premier League.
Nsien tips the Super Eagles as favourites for another Afcon triumph, but only if the defence can step-up their game like the attack.
“Looking at the potential of the current Super Eagles players, I will say that hundred per cent, Nigeria has the potential to win the African Nations Cup in Cameroon,” the Nigerian Pilot quotes the 39-year-old tactician.
“From the midfield to the forward, there is absolutely high-quality players and talents.
“Coach Gernot Rohr only needs to identify a crop of players at the back four to make sure that the game is tight for the opponents. He just needs to keep the quality at the back and stay connected as a group.
“When players have played in another country for a very long time, it can be difficult to adapt, and to win a competition, you will not want to concede goals.
“I believe in the set of players that form the attack of the current Super Eagles. We have the right group of players in the Eagles.”
Nigeria last won the continental championship in 2013, but the West African nation are currently top of their AFCON qualifying group after winning their first two games against the Benin Republic and Lesotho.