By Patrick Omorodion
That the Super Eagles played a barren draw against Saudi Arabia in Austria last Tuesday in their first build-up match for the 2010 World Cup is no longer news.
The teamâ€™s technical adviser, Lars Lagerback had his first feel of the players in the match which many Nigerians have described as below par and unconvincing.
Lagerback used the match to try out some of the players who were either coming out of injury or did not command a permanent shirt in their respective clubs. Their performance against Saudi Arabia could determine if they will make the final 23 players expected to be named by the midnight of tomorrow.
So how did they fare? Can they improve in todayâ€™s encounter against Colombia in London?
Four goalkeepers are among the 30 players currently in camp but Lagerback used only Austin Ejide for the entire duration of the match. The Saudis did not threaten the Eagles defence much but on the few occasions they came close, Ejide pulled some saves which could have given the Asians some edge.
He was also able to shout some senses into the defence that appeared jittery most of the time.
The defence proved a typical Eagles defence, always jittery, unorganised and making some careless mistakes which a lethal attack could cash on to punish the team with goals
Terna Suswan, one of the two home-based players on the list. Being his first time with the Eagles at that stage, he showed some nervousness and didnâ€™t really understand his colleagues initially. His confidence could rise in subsequent matches
Joseph Yobo, though an old player in the team, he did not inspire the confidence he was known for. He failed to organise the defence and allowed the Saudis easy passage even though they could utilise the chances that came their way.
Elderson Echiejile, one of the young players who has graduated from the Flying Eagles through the Under-23 to the Super Eagles. During the qualifiers, he gave Nigerians cause to smile and tipped him to displace Taye Taiwo. May be because of lack of activity in his French club, he lost some of the sparks he was known for and made some unpardonable errors.
Danny Shittu, as bulky as ever and found it difficult turning to chase opposing attackers. He resulted to pushing and holding which could cost the Eagles dearly at the World Cup. He needs to shed some weight and work on his speed.
The midfield did not, as usual with the recent set of Eagles, produce any spark as the players could not link properly with the attack.
Yusuf Ayila, started slowly, jittery at the better part of the first half. He made up in the second half and could still improve with some more warm-up matches
Rating: 4Â Â Â Â Â Â Haruna Lukman, showed some exuberance in his manner of tackling. His passes were not too accurate but he showed enough aggressiveness. He needs to work on his ball control and dribble less
Nwankwo Kanu, the old war horse displayed the tricks he is known for. His sparkle is however no longer there. Even though he started the game, it was evident the energy to carry on through was not there. His inclusion in the final team could just be as a motivator rather than a pivot
Kaulu Uche, has always proved incapable holding the midfield. Even an opportunity handed him by Victor Anichebe who cut in from the flanks was fluffed.
Chinedu Obasi, apart from some errors, he showed aggressiveness needed to harass opponentsâ€™defence. He finds his rhythm, he could be lethal in front of goal.
Victor Anichebe, though didnâ€™t play too many matches in his club this season, he showed he has overcome the injury that troubled him. Playing the typical English fast football, Anichebe cut in easily into the Saudi area but his crosses were not utilised.
Obafemi Martins, showed his usual sparkle but didnâ€™t get much balls
Ik Uche, didnâ€™t play as he is used to. A little bit rusty. Could improve with subsequent games
Sani Kaita, did well but should watch out for his hard tackles
John Utaka, not fully fit. Was a shadow of his old self
Peter Utaka, still to mature for an Eagles shirt. Should wait for is time
Chidi Ordiah, played only for a short time. Will improve with more games. Good for the World Cup.