Eagles Watch

Etebo outshines Modric, Rakitic as best passer, top dribbler


The Super Eagles started their World Cup campaign on a sad note losing 0-2 to Croatia in Kaliningrad. Despite the defeat, one player who shone brightly for the Eagles is Stoke City new signing, Oghenekaro Etebo. The former Warri Wolves man impressed better than Croatia’s duo of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric in the middle of the pack in terms of number of passes, dribbles and fouls committed on him.

In yet another extensive package, the News Editor, ADEBAYO OLODAN writes on the performances of Super Eagles players and news about the future of Super Eagles’ hopefuls.

Croatia 2-0 Nigeria: How Super Eagles players fared

Croatia eased to a 2-0 Group D win in Kaliningrad, Russia, leaving Nigeria with a difficult chance of progressing to the knockout stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Nigeria’s lack of creativity was evident, but Croatia did not record a shot on target from open play until second-half stoppage-time, leaving Rohr in no doubt what went wrong for Nigeria in Kaliningrad.

Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal from a Luka Modric corner gave Croatia a first-half lead, with the Real Madrid midfielder making sure his side top Group D by converting a spot-kick after the interval.

William Troost-Ekong needlessly brought down Mario Mandzukic while defending another corner to hand Croatia a penalty that wrapped up the game.

Below is how Super Eagles players rated against Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday.

Francis Uzoho: There was nothing the young goalkeeper could do about the two goals scored. The Deportivo La Coruna keeper displayed a confidence above his age. The scoreline could have been worse but for Uzoho’s agility and sharpness in goal. 6/10

Shehu Abdullahi: He appeared quite composed at the beginning but was later consistently turned inside out by Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic. Offered little on the offensive and he left his compatriot, Victor Moses with more defensive duties to do. The coach should have substituted him for Tyronne Ebuehi to offer Nigeria depth on the flanks as the midfielder appeared a ‘no go area’ with Croatian veterans; Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric dominating play all through. 4/10

Brian Idowu: He started the match brightly but switched off afterwards and never really combined well with Alex Iwobi on the left side of Nigeria’s attack. He made a few runs upfront which yielded no result. 5/10

William Troost-Ekong: Had a decent game with some last ditch clearances until he conceded that cheeky penalty kick by holding Mario Mandzukic off a corner kick. 4/10

Leon Balogun: He shrugged off injury to start the match and made a number of interceptions including a few attempts to score from set-pieces. 6/10

Wilfred Ndidi: The Leicester City man was comfortable passing the ball backward rather than initiating attack. Also, he did not break up play enough and had no attempt on goal. He appeared not fully fit. 5/10

Oghenekaro Etebo: Despite scoring an own goal, Etebo is undoubtedly Nigeria’s best player on the night as he got over 80 per cent of his passes right, intercepted play and was strong on the ball. He will however need to improve on his shots on goal. Etebo will perform better in a more advanced role perhaps in place of John Obi Mikel in the offensive midfield role. 7/10.

Mikel Obi: At 31, the former Chelsea player struggled to cope with the pace of the game. He did not create the needed openings for the strikers and wingers to score. As the most experienced in the side, Mikel did not provide the right leadership for his teammates. 5/10

Alex Iwobi: He put up a below par showing perhaps for being played out on the left. He was largely ineffective in that role and it was not a surprise that he was hauled off in the second half. 4/10

Victor Moses: He was able to put the Croatia defenders on the back foot and also added defensive work to his duties. He was unlucky not to get a goal as he faded out in the second half. The Chelsea man will need to improve on his set pieces in subsequent matches. 5/10

Odion Ighalo: He was completely isolated with very minimal supply from the midfielders or wingers. He sometimes played dip to pick up ball in the midfield but nothing came out of such moves. 5/10


Ahmed Musa: He was largely ineffective after coming on for Iwobi. He however had a chance to reduce deficit for Nigeria after being played through late on by Kelechi Iheanacho but was denied by a clearance from a Croatian defender. 4/10

Kelechi Iheanacho: The Leicester man added more bite to the team’s attack after coming off the substitutes’ bench. He created some nervy moments in the defence of the opponent. 5/10

Simy Nwankwo: Could not be rated

…Etebo outshines Modric, Rakitic as top dribbler, best passer

Despite scoring an own goal in the 0-2 defeat to Croatia, Oghenekaro Etebo has been rated by football statistics website Whoscored.com as the best player on the pitch for the Super Eagles with a rating of 7.39 ahead of Wilfred Ndidi with 7.35.

Ndidi finished the match with a game high five aerial battles won and the holding midfielder was also the top tackler among the 28 players in action at the Kaliningrad Stadium.

With three interceptions racked up at the end of the game, Brighton & Hove Albion defender, leon Balogun was the best player on the pitch in the category.

Etebo was the player with the best passing accuracy, with a game-high 92.5 per cent, followed by Ndidi and Marcelo brozovic with 90 per cent each.

The former Las Palmas ace had the most touches in the game, 94, seven more than the second placed Ivan Rakitic and Real Madrid star, Luka Modric (83).

The new Stoke City signing was the most fouled player in the match with the opponents giving away eight fouls and was the top dribbler after completing nine successful dribbles.

William Troost-Ekong was the flop of the game with a rating of 5.63, he finished the match with just one tackle, one interception, two clearances, no blocked shots and he committed two fouls.

Super Eagles coach, Gernor Rohr had revealed in his post-match press conference Saturday evening that he was impressed with the performances of Etebo and Ndidi in the World Cup opener against Croatia despite the defeat.

…Chelsea condemns Moses for lackluster display

In their review of Nigeria’s 0-2 loss to Croatia, Premier League club, Chelsea has criticized their player, Victor Moses over his lackluster display.

Also not spared is John Obi Mikel who was said to be lacking character and had to be substituted in the closing minutes of the game. Already there are calls that Mikel should be deployed in the same position he used to play for Chelsea when Nigeria face Iceland on Friday.

“Victor Moses became the first Chelsea player to suffer defeat at Russia 2018 when a lackluster display from Nigeria resulted in defeat by Croatia,” Chelsea wrote on its official website at the weekend.

“Moses started on the right of the Nigeria line-up but soon moved into an attacking position on the right and took most set-pieces but he and his teammates, who included John Mikel Obi in the no. 10 position, rarely threatened.”


Blues receives offer for Omeruo

Super Lig outfit, Goztepe has made Chelsea an offer for Kenneth Omeruo.

The Milliyet report that the Izmir based side want Omeruo on loan next season.

Per the source, the Nigeria international will make a decision after the World Cup.

The 24-year-old spent last season on loan at Kasimpasa. Omeruo has enjoyed three loan stints in Turkey, twice at Kasimpasa and once at Alanyaspor.

Trabzon based paper Taka, meanwhile, report that Trabzonspor have set their sights on the versatile defender.

Per the source, the Black Sea based side want to bring Omeruo in as a replacement for Jan Durica.

Turkish-Football meanwhile understands that Kasimpasa have also made an offer to keep Omeruo on loan for an additional season.

The centre-back has no shortage of interest after an impressive season in the Super Lig.

Omeruo has another two-years remaining on his Chelsea contract.

Despite joining the Blues in 2012 Omeruo has never actually played a game for the Premier League outfit.

Mbakogu close to Leeds move

English Championship side, Leeds United is believed to have reached an agreement with Serie B outfit Capri to sign striker Jerry Mbakogu.

According to Gazzetta di Modena Carpi President, Stefano Bonacini has told the Italian media that a deal with Leeds United for Jerry Mbakogu will be completed later this month.

The 25-year-old Mbakogu currently plays for Italian side Carpi who he joined on loan from Padova for the 2013-14 season, before joining them on a permanent basis at the end of that campaign

The Whites have been searching for forward options ever since the transfer window opened having seen Pierre-Michel Lasogga return to Germany, but they had been frustrated in their attempts to find the right player.

The pacy forward, is comfortable playing through the middle or from the wings is expected to cost the Whites just over £2.6 million as an initial fee

Despite been born in Nigeria, Mbakogu holds an Italian passport so should not have issues with work permit.


Crystal Palace keen on Obi

Premier League club, Crystal Palace is eyeing a deal for Torino midfielder, Joel Obi.

The 27-year-old is also a transfer target for Stuttgart and Portuguese clubs, Benfica and FC Porto according to SportItalia.

Obi who scored one goal for Inter Milan in 50 appearances had a brief stint at Parma before making the switch to Torino where he has scored six times in 52 appearances. The diminutive player is presently in Russia representing Nigeria.


Musa’s loan deal expires

Russian Premier League club, CSKA Moscow has announced on their official website that Ahmed Musa is no longer their player as the loan agreement between the team and Leicester City expired on June 15.

Musa returned to Muscovites for a second spell in the January transfer window after falling out of favour at his parent club, Leicester and ended the season with seven goals and three assist in 16 appearances.

The player also helped the club qualify for the group stage of next season’s UEFA Champions League.

“We thank Musa for his contribution and wish success at the 2018 World Cup and in his future career,” CSKA Moscow wrote on its website.

The former Kano Pillars and VVV Venlo star has a contract with Leicester City until June 30, 2020 but has been linked with a move to Turkish club, Galatasaray.


Ganiyu Oseni (Hà Ni): The former schoolboy international scored the opener in the fifth minute and lasted 90 minutes as his team suffered a 2-5 loss at Sài Gòn in the V-League. Oseni who is in his 8th season in Vietnam has now scored 19 goals in 18 appearances for the club. The power-playing striker who has been in Vietnam since 2011 had a short stint in Turkey before retracing his steps to the less fancied V-League.


  1. Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal against Costa Rica was the third scored from a direct free-kick in the 2018 World Cup, already as many as the entirety of the 2014 tournament.
  2. Lionel Messi (11) attempted seven shots more than Cristiano Ronaldo (4) on the opening match day of the 2018 World Cup, but the Portuguese forward scored three goals compared to Messi’s none.
  3. Nigeria has lost each of its last six World Cup matches when they have conceded the first goal.
  4. Since 1966, only Luigi Riva has attempted more shots in a World Cup game (13 vs both Sweden and Israel in 1970) without scoring than Lionel Messi did today against Iceland (since 1966).
  5. 2018 World Cup is Nigeria’s sixth appearance; no African nation has appeared in more since the Super Eagles’ first tournament in 1994.
  6. Iceland’s Alfred Finnbogason’s goal (22:49) was the earliest scored for a nation playing in their first World Cup game since Rashidi Yekini scored after 21 minutes for Nigeria vs Bulgaria on June 21st 1994.
  7. Lionel Messi has missed four of the last seven penalties that he has taken for Barcelona and Argentina combined (57%).
  8. At 33years and 130 days, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the oldest ever player to score a World Cup hat trick.
  9. The five teams currently on the longest unbeaten runs ahead of the 2018 World Cup are; Spain: 20 Belgium, 19 Morocco, 18 Peru and 15 Denmark.
  10. Lionel Messi attempted 11 shots for Argentina vs Iceland (the most he’s ever attempted in a World Cup game), but he still didn’t manage to score a goal.
  11. Ángel Di María has now created 23 goal-scoring chances for Argentina over three different World Cup tournaments, but none of those have assisted a goal.
  12. Neither Croatia nor Nigeria attempted a single shot on target in the first half of this match. The last game to not have a shot on target before half time at the World Cup also involved Croatia (vs Mexico in June 2014).
  13. Costa Rica has won their opening game at the World Cup in three of their previous four appearances (L1).
  14. Four penalties were given on Saturday at Russia 2018; since 1966, only once has there been a single day with more penalties given (6 – 24th June 1998).
  15. Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick was the first that he has scored from a direct free kick in a finals tournament; from what was his 45th attempt (World Cup & Euros combined).
  16. Peru attempted 17 shots without scoring against Denmark; only Argentina (27) have had more at World Cup 2018 so far.
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button