Algeria, Tunisia friendlies: Opportunity to test new players, improve team, says football enthusiasts

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Abuja  -Some enthusiasts have urged Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr to see the friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia as an opportunity to test players in order to improve the team.


The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Reigning African champions Algeria are the opponents of the Super Eagles in the first of the two international friendly matches, arranged by the Nigeria Federation (NFF) to be played in Austria.


Three-time African champions Nigeria will confront the Desert Foxes on Friday, before taking on the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia four days later at the Jacques Lemans Arena.

The matches fall within the FIFA window for international matches and have been approved by world governing body, FIFA and CAF.

A cross section of enthusiasts who spoke to NAN in separate interviews on Monday said both friendly games were very good tests for the Super Eagles and should be used to improve the team.

Godwin Bamigboye, Chairman of FCT Chapter of Nigeria Coaches Association (NFCA) noted that the game between Nigeria and the North African powerhouses had always been a titanic affair considering the teams’ head-to-head record.

He, however, stressed that aside from national pride, Rohr must view the game as an opportunity to test and improve the strength of his squad.

“Rohr must also use the matches to test some new players who might be impressive enough for inclusion in the Super Eagles.

“This is still part of the rebuilding process. If he discovers players with more potentials, that will be a huge gain for the team.

“Every department of the team required improvement.
I may not have details of the performance of the invited players, but it is my hope that they will prove their inclusion in the game,” he said.

For the likes of Victor Osimhen and Wilfred Ndidi who are notable absentees from the team, Bamigboye said that it was also an opportunity for their replacements to prove a point.

“Osimhen is in top form and any player invited as a replacement faces the uphill task of performing like him or close to his quality of game.

“Ebuehi is also young as well as talented and I will retain him in the Super Eagles if I were the coach.

“Whether notable players are present or not, I see the new players going to prove a point. Nigeria, Algeria and Tunisia will definitely benefit from these friendlies.

“Also from the list of invitees, it is obvious that the
home-based players have really not impressed Rohr, probably because he has not been watching the Nigeria Professional League (NPFL).

“However, I think the NPFL needs to be made more attractive in order for players to get more of their value’s worth,” he said.

Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international, on his part said his major concern was the goalkeeping department of the team, adding that he was still very concerned about the team finding a suitable replacement for Vincent Enyeama.

“My major concern is in the goalkeeping position as we are yet to have a reliable and consistent number one. I hope goalkeeper Maduka Okoye will give us some hope.

“Carl Ikeme was building up to be a reliable hand but for the health challenge he had.

“Dele Alampasu is coming back. I expect him to be a regular in the Super Eagles by now but I really don’t know his current form.

“Okoye may prove to be a reliable goal tender afterall. The friendly matches will help to assess the players.

“Generally, I see the Super Eagles as a team undergoing rebuilding. I believe that is why Rohr is testing more players.

“I see a solid team coming out from the rebuilding efforts,” he said.

Ralph Chidozie, a renowed Radio/Television sport analyst also shared the same view with Bamigboye.

He said he always looked at friendly games as an avenue to test some new players to see how they could fit into the main set up of the National team.

“I do not look at it from results and ranking points angle, but it’s always good to play quality games like the two lined up and get victories which will act as morale boosters.

“Algeria is rated 4th in Africa and 35th in the world while Tunisia is Africa’s 2nd ranked team after Senegal, and so both games are good games to take for any coach,” he said.

He noted that Nigerian fans always willed the Super Eagles to win no matter the country they face, stressing that the most important thing was using the friendlies to improve the squad.

“I expect experimentation from Coach Rohr, going by the squad he named for the games; from the goalkeepers to the midfielders and attackers.

“I am expecting a game that will throw up a few new players to the main team.” he said.

Linus Mba, Nigeria Federation (NFF’s) referee adviser, and CAF referees committee member, said the friendly match was an opportunity to try out fresh legs for the critical weak positions in the team.

“Professionally technicians – the coaches are better placed to express opinions on who is to be fielded depending on what tactics are expected.

“But as a Nigerian, l pray that we use the opportunities to try out fresh legs for the critical weak positions in the Super Eagles,” he said.

Ameobi Ezeaku, the Team Manager, Rangers International Club of Enugu noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down everything, adding that it would therefore be difficult to predict the likely outcome of football matches.

He said this was in view of the fact that players and clubs/national teams had been laid off for a quite while.

Ezeaku, however, said that it was possible to rely on old statistics to predict the likely outcome of matches, adding that beyond these, the two high-profile friendlies would serve as good assessments for the team.

“They will be good games for the Super Eagles because it will give the national coaching crew ample opportunity to assess the team, especially the new invitees.

“Algeria and Tunisia parade quality talents who can give any team a run for their money.

“So, a friendly game against them won’t be a tea party, but serious business,” he said.