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Player ratings: Osimhen ineffectual as Iheanacho impresses in Nigeria win over Liberia

Player ratings: Osimhen ineffectual as Iheanacho impresses in Nigeria win over Liberia
September 03
21:53 2021

Super Eagles kicked off their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification campaign on a winning note by defeating Liberia 2-0 on Friday.

The Nigerian team came into the match off a two-game winless run after failing to impress in a pair of friendlies against Cameroon in June.

The team, however, found form at the Teslim Balogun Stadium to maintain the country’s 17-year-old unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers.

Gernot Rohr named a familiar line-up with the trio of Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon leading the attack, while the midfield was marshalled by Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo and Alex Iwobi.

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Ola Aina and Jamilu Collins started on both sides of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong at the heart of the defence with Maduka Okoye in goal.

TheCable dissects how they performed in the game.

Okoye (6/10)

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He cast another solid performance to help his quest to retain the number one jersey. He also showed great composure within his goal area, quick to react to runs of play to pluck up stray balls before they become dangerous. Although the Liberian attack wasn’t all gun blazing, his presence in between the sticks exudes calmness.

Aina (7/10)

He was a lively presence down the right flank for the Eagles. Aina also pressed forward daringly on several occasions to tilt numbers in favour of Nigeria in the half of the Liberians. He gave a more encouraging performance that’s a spiked version of his display against Benin in March. He got Nigeria’s first attempt on goal in the 10th minute after he reacted to a spilled cross at the edge of the Liberia goal area, but his effort was blasted high and wide.

Troost-Ekong (5/10):

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He had little to do as the opposition held a shorter candle to the Eagles rearguard. He marshalled the defence solidly as the captain of the side.

Balogun (6/10):

A fine display from the libero who continues to prove he’s worthy of his place at the base of the Eagles’ defence. On the other side of the pitch, he was also threatening for Nigeria, attacking set pieces and giving the opposition defence another menace to worry about.

Collins (5/10):

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An ordinary performance for the FC Paderborn man. Offered next-to-nothing going forward but did just enough in defence.

Ndidi (6/10)

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An assuring presence in the midfield as he euthanized the Liberians’ attacking build-ups before they cause problems for the defence. He took a couple of knocks for the team as the Lone Stars sought to break the Eagles’ spirit with rough plays.

Aribo (6/10)

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He was enjoying himself as one of the creative outlets for the team. He glided easily past opponents with his long strides to create chances, and he had one himself in the first half, but his hurried shot dribbled wide. He made way for Oghenekaro Etebo late in the second half.

Iwobi (7/10)

Explosive as he marauded the space behind the attackers. He had a hand in the Eagles’ second goal as his opportunistic header was the touch the ball needed to fly beyond the reach of a couple of Liberian defenders and fall kindly for Iheanacho. Shehu Abdullahi replaced him in the second half.

Iheanacho (9/10)

A sparkle that couldn’t be missed amongst other performers in the game. His brace was the difference between the two sides. The brute strength and horned technicality he displayed for the second goal re-enforces the development that the Leicester City forward has attained in the past year. He departed the pitch amidst cheers for Ahmed Musa.

Moses (7/10)

A jarring rod in the skin of the Liberian defence with his quick feet and speed. He was an untamable threat down Eagle’s right hand before he was substituted for Samuel Kalu.

Osimhen (5/10)

He did little with his energy upfront. He helped keep the press on the shaky Liberian defence and force errors a couple of times, but he made a paltry contribution before being ejected for Paul Onuachu.

Substitutes

Onuachu (5/10)

He replaced Osimhen in the 78th minute, and made a sizable impact in the handful of minutes he had.

Kalu (5/10)

Replaced Moses in the 78th minute, and he resumed from where the Nantes man stopped in terrorising the flanks of the Liberian defence.

Musa (N/A)

Replaced Iheanacho in the 85th minute but could do little as both sides appeared to have agreed to close the count.

Abdullahi (N/A)

Replaced Iwobi in the 85th minute but could do little as both sides appeared to have agreed to close the count.

Etebo (N/A)

He replaced Aribo in the 85th minute in stoppage time, and the whistle went almost immediately.

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