John Obi Mikel took positive notes from Nigeria’s 2-0 loss to Serbia in their pre-World Cup friendly match, played at the Hive Stadium, London.
A second-half brace from Fulham striker Alexsandar Mitrovic ended the Super Eagles’ six-match unbeaten run.
The Super Eagles had started their World Cup preparation on a positive run, handing a surprise defeat to Argentina in November before Victor Moses’ penalty on Friday saw them add Poland to the list.
However, on Tuesday evening, they were struck 2-0 by the Serbians; a result their captain – who have only featured against in November’s tie against Jorge Sampaoli’s men and missed March’s games due to work permit issues at his China base – seems unfazed about as he is rather concerned about the lessons learnt.
Mikel tweeted,”You don’t lose, you learn,”.
“Looking forward to being back on the pitch for our remaining preparation games.”
The three-time African champions have three more tuneup encounters before making their sixth appearance at the quadrennial event in Russia, with DR Congo, England and Czech Republic.
They are scheduled to jostle with Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D of the global showpiece.
Match review from the game by Footytool
1. Communication Between Ekong And Awaziem
Leon Balogun was missing in the friendly and was replaced by Nantes FC central defender Chidozie Awaziem and he made some vital clearances but it was obvious that the partnership and understanding between Balogun and William Troost Ekong has been beneficial to the team.
Two goal hero, Aleksandar Mitrovic was a menace for the Nigerian defenders on the night and the hitherto defensive solidity was lacking.
The long term partnership between the ‘oyibo wall’ and its resultant breakup tonight owing to Balogun’s illness was apparent.
There is need to have options in case of injuries or any of the regular players call in for illness but Balogun’s absence shows that the central defense is a sensitive position.
2. Abdullahi Is An Important Defensive Player
Shehu Abdullahi was missing from this game due to injury and was replaced by Tyrone Ebuehi.
The youngster did not fair badly but his defensive awareness was questionable as he let Filip Kostic loose to deliver the assist for Mitrovic’s second goal whilst Ogenyi Eddy Onazi covered up for him (Ebuehi) as the Serbians exploited the space from the right back position.
3. Super Eagles Lucky With Goal Line Technology
For the second successive game against Poland and Serbia, Nigeria’s opposition scored but the referee and his ‘able’ assistants failed to award them against the Eagles.
Before the two goals were scored, Mitrovic saw an effort cross the line but Eagles’ keeper Francis Uzoho turned swiftly to gather the ball after it had crossed the line.
Poland similarly should have had a goal against Nigeria on Friday but Leon Balogun cleared the ball much to the frustration of the Polish side.
That underlines this writer’s point made on Friday that the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) is needed in world football.
4. Idowu Had A Better Game
Amker Perm left back Brian Idowu surged forward a couple of times to support the attack unlike he did versus Poland last weekend.
That implied that gradually he is integrating into the team and his confidence will be boosted even further.
Idowu’s defending was also better. However there were a few times Alexandre Kolarov in particular threatened to wreck havoc as Idowu wandered to support the attack but was either at the receiving end of an over hit pass or had his crosses failing to create panic in the central defence.
5. Eagles Need A Striker To Support Ighalo
There was lack of cutting edge in the team’s attack. Players like Ahmed Musa and Alex Iwobi did trouble the Serbians with their trickery and pace but the final balls were disappointedly poor and mostly off targets.
Odion Ighalo was a second half substitute after the likes of Victor Moses whom he replaced, and Moses Simon fired blanks in the first and second halves.
The Eagles attackers did not draw world class saves from the Serbian keeper tonight and that shows that Ighalo needs another striker to help share goal scoring duties.
There has been calls for the recall of veteran Obafemi Martins. The former Newcastle, Inter Milan, Wolfsburg star has divided opinions and if coach Gernot Rohr monitors him and is impressed by his performances at his club before the next round of friendlies against DR Congo, England and Czech Republic should be brought back for the sake of this World Cup only.