Nigeria, who had already guaranteed their spot in the knockout phase prior to the game against Madagascar at the Alexandria Stadium, will need to improve significantly on this performance if they are to progress.
The Super Eagles fell behind in the 13th-minute, with Lalaina Nomenjanahary taking advantage of a woeful defensive error from Brighton defender Leon Balogun to slot home after rounding goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Despite dominating in terms of possession, Nigeria failed to record a shot on target in the first half and almost conceded a second just before the break, only for Madagascar captain Faneva Andriatsima to fire wide when through on goal.
Eight minutes into the second half Madagascar sealed the win when Carolus Andriamahitsinoro’s free-kick, following a foul on the edge of the area from Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, took a deflection and looped into the net.
With some days to the knockout phase, Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr must try to solve some of the core issues.
Here are Futbalgalore.com’s observations from Sunday’s embarrassing defeat
Position of John Obi Mikel and Ogu’s farewell match
John Obi Mikel was used as a defensive midfielder which clearly cost the Eagles.
The Trabzonspor new signing was was handed the holding midfield role and he was complete shadow of himself. It’s time for coach Rohr to switch Mikel to the defensive midfield, where the ex Lyn Oslo star played perfectly at Chelsea.
It was however clear the Super Eagles general captain struggled in his play as an attacking midfielder until he was replaced by Alex Iwobi.
The introduction of Iwobi in the second half obviously stabilized the Eagles midfield.
John Ogu was another flop of the game. He was very heavy and lacked the flexibility to cope with the speed of Madagascar attackers. He might have played his last game for the Eagles.
Calamity Leon Balogun flopped
Brighton & Hove Albion central defender Leon Balogun clearly struggled to terms with the pace of the game.
The defender was slow to intercept a diagonal pass from John Ogu that led to the opener. It was abcal
He was a complete shadow of himself and often put the team under pressure with wayward passes.
Many wondered if it was the “Old Balogun” that endeared himself to fans and media in the past.
Chidozie Awaziem is a misfit
If the Super Eagles are to make further progression at AFCON 2019, either Jamilu Collins or Shehu Abdullahi need to return. The good news is that both are making progress with their fitness programmes.
Chidozie Awaziem was a complete misfit and couldn’t cross the ball accurately when given the chance. It takes a lot to play as a full back. The Porto defender was clearly bereft of ideas.
Samuel Kalu gamble was a debacle
A player who suffered from heart issues before the tournament was risked to play in such high tempo game. It was a gamble that turned out to be a debacle.
The tricky winger wasn’t really at his best and wasted two chances that came his way.
Moses Simon came off the bench to offer stability. Little wonder why he was benched for an unfit Kalu.
Kenneth Omeruo was missed
Football comes with form, consistency and quality. It’s no longer news that the best central defender available to the Super Eagles is Chelsea Warrior Kenneth Omeruo.
His leadership qualities and organization was missed. This ripped the Super Eagles open and made the Berea run riot.
We need Samu
Every good team need game changers to switch the pendulum of the clock when the going gets tough.
Playing at the top flight and performing isn’t an easy task. Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze was impressive especially in the first half against Burundi. He had a cameo in the slim victory over Guinea. Since the match with Madagascar was perceived to be “Holiday Game”, one would have expected Rohr to field the skillful youngster who mesmerized Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos during the 2018/19 Spanish La Liga Santander campaign.
Chukwueze is the most skillful player in the current Super Eagles squad. Critics claim he is too young to play. When will the young grow?
Time to stop experimenting
The Super Eagles are clearly suffering from lack of stability. Since Rohr tookover in 2016, he has been experimenting. A manager that knows his onion doesn’t try such in a big tournament. We need to be stable.