Leon Balogun is a disaster, Ogu is not a worthy Ndidi replacement plus other things we learnt in Super Eagles disappointing loss to Madagascar

The Super Eagles were disappointing in the first half as they struggled to match the energy of Malagasy. The debutants did not show the three-time AFCON champions any respect and they took the lead following a mistake from the Nigerian defence.

The Super Eagles tried to play it out from the back but Brighton defender Leon Balogun was lackadaisical in his attempt to control a poor ball from John Ogu and that allowed Madagascar forward Lalaina Nomenjanahary to capitalize, rounding up Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the Nigerian goal to finish into an empty net.

Rohr’s men tried to step up their game after falling behind but they failed to break down a resilient Malagasy defence. The closest they got was when Musa was set up by Samuel Kal, but Madagascar defender Melvin Adrien nicked the ball off him as he tried to round the Melvin Adrien.

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 Instead, it was Nicolas Dupuis’ side that continued to grow in strength and could have doubled their lead through Faneva Andriatsima but his shot could only find the side netting.

Having said that, these are the five things we learnt from the game.

Leon Balogun lack of game time showed:

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 Prior to the start of the competition, Leon Balogun’s involvement in the squad was questioned following a season where he spent most of the time on the bench with Brighton.  Although the former Mainz defender has enjoyed a strong partnership with William Troost Ekong in the Super Eagles since Rohr came in, he failed to get game time with the Seagulls, managing just five league appearances for Brighton this season, three of which came as substitutes.

That showed in the game against the Malagasy as he was at fault for the opening goal even though it was also a poor pass from John Ogu. The 30-year-old was slow to react and that allowed Lalaina Nomenjanahary to capitalize. This match has shown Balogun cannot be trusted when Nigeria faces the tougher oppositions in the knock out stages.

John Ogu is not a worthy Ndidi replacement:

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 He has always been consistent in Rohr’s 23 man squad but has failed to find a way through the starting line up. Today’s performance showed why he’s failed to earn Rohr’s trust. He was slow in possession and his misplaced pass led to Madagascar’s first goal. It’s no surprise that he was chalked off at half-time for Ndidi in what may prove to be his last appearance at the tournament.

John Mikel Obi’s time is up: 


Another name whose name in the squad sparked up controversy. Before the Nations Cup, the Nigerian captain hasn’t played for the team since they were knocked out of the 2018 world cup. He skipped the AFCON qaulifiers and that caused an argument on whether he should have been named in the squad. However, his two apperances in the tourney so far showed it’s time we move on and start to find a replacement for the former Chelsea player.  He was sloppy in possession and was also lacking pace. The performance against Guinea showed the Super Eagles are better without Mikel and it’s time for Rohr to look to the future.

Madagascar once again justifies CAF’s decision: 


When CAF decided to expand the tournament from 16 teams to 24, the decision was met with a lot of outrage. Critics argued that it’ll reduce the quality of the competition. However, Madagascar’s display coupled with performances from teams like Benin Republic and Uganda showed that CAF were right to expand the tournament. The Malagasy are ranked 108 in the world but they showed that ranking is just a number as they outplayed their more illustrous opponent.

The Green Jersey is Bad Luck:


Although it’s beautiful in sight, previous matches have shown that anytime the Nigerian team put on the Green Jersey, they lose. They lost while wearing it in the games against Croatia and Argentina at the 2018 World Cup. In the two matches they have won at the competition, they put on their green and white jersey. With this recent setback against Madagascar, It won’t be far fectehed to say the Green jersey is cursed.