Super Eagles victorious in 2-1 WIN over Zambia (PLAYER RATINGS)

The Super Eagles werr in scintilating form as they grabbed the first three points of Group B as the race to the Russia 2018 Worldcup Qualifier began on Sunday, leaving hosts Zambia in shock at their poor start to the campaign in what will surely be a difficult group.

A marvelous team performance saw the Eagles win a competitive away match for the first time since November 2014, when goals by Ikechukwu Uche and Aaron Samuel earned Nigeria a 2-1 win over Congo in Pointe Noire, in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

With the aim to make Nigeria’s Europe–based legion uncomfortable with an early afternoon start, and in front of a full house at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, the Chipolopolo were given a boost when President Edgar Lungu stormed the venue to lead the support against the Eagles. Poor Edgar only earned himself front row seats to the defeat of his side.

The 2012 African champions started with some hard running, but William Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo in the Nigerian heart of defence were very alert. Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme did well to push a speculative cross from the right over the crossbar as early as the second minute, and eventually made a total of eight saves, including a brilliant close range bullet header, He definitely impressed us.

After the initial efforts by the host, Skipper Mikel Obi took charge of matters in midfield, and Moses Simon, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho combined well to put the Zambia defence on its toes.

Ageless Collins Mbesuma, as well as Rainford Kalaba, Fwayo Tembo and Jackson Mwanza made Nigeria sweat on occasions, but after Iwobi swung a volley into the net (after abject defending from the hosts) for Nigeria’s opener in the 34th minute and Iheanacho sprang past the zambian defence, rounded Kennedy Nweene to score Nigeria’s second in the 45th minute, it was as good as over as a contest.

Although Mbesuma pulled one back for the Zambians in the 71st minute following Kenneth Omeruo’s blunder the Super Eagles contained the opposition well and finished strongly.

It meant Franco-German Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has won his two matches in charge of Nigeria since his appointment in August.

NFF President Amaju Pinnick said: “We commend the efforts of the players and the technical crew, and we thank the Honourable Minister of Sports for his words of encouragement before the match. We are happy with the three points but it is a marathon, not a sprint.

“We still have five matches to play. We will take it one match at a time. Next stop is ‘Operation Beat Algeria.’”

The Eagles next play Algeria in Uyo on 12thNovember.

PLAYER RATINGS

KARL IKEME: ———8.5 This guy is a top class goalie. Handling brilliant, confidence brilliant, Reflexes super..Enyeama will not be too missed at this rate

Omeruo:—————5 Did most things ok, but then committed a clanger for the Zambians to pull one back. Largely has lost a lot of the Solidity that made him such a huge hit in 2013 Afcon.

Toost Ekong: ———-8.5 Rock solid Defender. He has continued in his fine form from the Olympics and its great to see we have another Uche Okechukwu in the making. His recovery,aerial prowess and man marking are just exceptional..

Echeijile—————6 Elderson today was ran Ragged by Fwayo Tembo and has lost a lot of pace. Didn’t commit any noticable blunder but should have supported the attack more as a modern fullback should.

Ndidi——————-5 Wilfried Struggled badly for most of this game. He wasn’t comfortable at all in his improvised Right full back role. Should be eased back to his natural Holding midfield role.

Ogenyi Onazi————6 Broke a lot of the Zambian moves down, but his passing was erratic most of the time misplacing easy ones that led to dangerous breaks. Ran out of gas by the 75th minute and had to be replaced.

Mikel Obi—————-7 You can always expect Mikel to give you a class performance. Strong on the ball and using his experience for the benefit of the team. I like the way he gets into his creative attacking mode when in the eagles colours as he showed today with some nice touches. Should have grabbed a goal but for the super save from Mwene.

Moses Simon: ————6 Usually dangerous and electrifying on the wings Moses wasnt himself today. Almost no successful take-ons and his final ball was very disappointing subbed in the 2nd half.

Ihenacho—————–9 Kelechi showed he has truly come of age. The Manchester City youngster underlined his class with a brilliant goal showing his close control and calmness in rounding Mwene and slotting the ball home. His overall game was good but missed out on a perfect 10 by not working hard to win back possession when on the rare occasion he loses the ball.

Iwobi———————8.5 The second member of our Premiership young duo…Arsenal’s Iwobi started slowly at first but later on also began to show his class like we see every weekend for his London club. Took his goal confidently and sprayed passes wonderfully between the lines. I see a great partnership building between Iheanacho and Iwobi. With a deadly striker in front of these two Nigeria will be a force to reckon with.

Ideye:——————6 Ideye is still Ideye of 2013. Not the quickest or the most Skillful but a great linkup man and also knows how to create space for his quicker Teammates to exploit using his strength on the ball. Hilarious moment when he was put clean through by Iwobi & Only the Keeper to beat ..but he got his chipped finish Horribly wrong..then turned to berating the linesman for flagging him offside..oga you no score na .why you dey vex for linesman?

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