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Five things we learned from Nigeria's lacklustre efforts against Cameroon

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Iheanacho: Everywhere I look Nigerians are scoring! (1:10)

Kelechi Iheanacho is amused by the number of Nigerian strikers currently in goal scoring form across Europe. (1:10)

Among the biggest criticisms Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr continues to face is his perceived stubborn loyalty to the same personnel, and persistence with the same system, which showed in two friendlies against Cameroon this month.

Cameroon won the first friendly 1-0, and the second was drawn 0-0. It's perhaps fortunate that these were not the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers they were originally meant to be, having been delayed to September due to COVID-19.

Toss in the widespread belief that he lacks in-game tactical ability, makes predictable substitutions and makes them way too late to make any real impact, and there were a lot of questions going into the two-game series.

The main question was whether or not Rohr would break form and allow some new players a chance to stake a claim for places in his squad. While he was forced to call upon some new faces due to injuries, it was still a very familiar XI in the opening game.

It was a game of precious few chances, with the better of the opportunities falling to the Nigerian side despite their largely flat display, and they were dominated in midfield.

That victory meant Cameroon claimed a first win in open play over Nigeria for the first time since 1989.

Game two was a slight improvement from the Nigerians. They had more possession, created more opportunities and were unlucky not to score on at least two occasions.

Again, and with injuries forcing some changes, Rohr still largely stuck with his tried and tested personnel to start. Valentine Ozornwafor was the only new entrant, replacing the injured William Troost-Ekong.

At the final whistle on Tuesday in Austria, few of the questions going into the series had been resolved.

1. Same faces, different day

Rohr did ensure that his new players got playing time. Terem Moffi, Peter Olayinka, Abraham Marcus, and Ozornwafor all saw varying degrees of action.

But it was clear from his selections over two games that, friendly or not, Rohr will start with his best team against any and all opposition while limiting newbies to no more than half an hour of football.

Moffi, with 25 minutes, was the lone rookie with the most minutes in game one. Game two was slightly better. The rookies enjoyed slightly more time, but again, there was little opportunity for starting positions for them. Ozornwafor was the lone exception and the only reason he did was because Troost-Ekong was unavailable due to injury.

Tactically, the coach stuck to his 4-3-3 in both games. While that was no surprise in game one, the second game was expected to be different, with injuries to Jamilu Collins along with Troost-Ekong. Rohr even admitted he would make "some changes" and try something new tactically.

Fortunately for him, Collins passed a late fitness test and was available to play, which saw the German revert to type.

It is a decision that caused some head-scratching. Some of his team's best games have been while playing three at the back, like against Brazil, Argentina, and England in friendlies, and Iceland at the World Cup in 2018.

Still, Rohr is loath to employ that set up as anything but a Plan B.

2. Goals galore! Oh, yeah, no...

By the end of the two games, Rohr had played a team with the firepower of Kelechi Iheanacho, Paul Onuachu, Moffi, Olayinka and Marcus for Nigeria. Amongst them, they tallied 92 goals and 22 assists this past season in Europe.

But against Cameroon, they failed to manage a single goal. That the inability to finish a play must be cause for massive concern.

And it was not for lack of chances. Leading the line, Onuachu did not have the pace or movement of Victor Osimhen. And he did not quite get the sort of opportunities that he usually finishes in Belgium.

Moffi, for his part, had at least two fine opportunities to convert, and Alex Iwobi fluffed a great chance in the second half of the second game after some eye-catching approach play involving Ahmed Musa.

Iheanacho failed to stamp his authority across both games and it would appear that Rohr needs to work out how best to maximize the Leicester man's talents for Nigeria.

3. The light in the gloom

Moses Simon may be playing for a club that barely escaped the drop {Nantes], but he is one of Rohr's gems, and has earned a starting spot as long as he is fit.

In the first game, he was the biggest threat for the Super Eagles, continually causing trouble down the wide areas. He continued in the second, until he was moved to wingback when Collins pulled up with injury. Again, he was just as effective defensively as he was on the offensive front.

Which again begs the question of why Rohr, with the personnel available to him, does not deploy them in a way that best utilizes their skills.

Iwobi can and has played wingback, Simon has shown that he can do the same, and Ozornwafor, despite limited minutes in Turkey, proved he was no slouch at centreback.

Playing with wingbacks would allow the German to play Iheanacho in much the same way as he is used at Leicester, as a second striker behind and around Osimhen, or another forward.

4. Not much to judge when it comes to rookies

The invitees were among the bigger reasons many wanted to see these games, mostly to evaluate their potential to upstage the current starters.

Ozornwafor, despite his lack of minutes in Turkey, looked like one to watch for. His unique skillset as a left-footed centreback already gives him a leg up on the competition. But his steady defending when deputizing for Troost-Ekong, and level-headed play, means that he is very likely to get another call.

Upfront, while Moffi's movement and running did not quite set the heart aflutter, it did again show that there was more than a little something there to get another peek.

5. FIFA rankings trouble

One justification for having these games at all was to give the team a chance to keep up their FIFA ranking [32 in the world] by not missing an international window, with Algeria [33] and Morocco [34] breathing down the Super Eagles' necks.

But losing to a lower-ranked team [Cameroon are 55th] does more harm than good in the final analysis and one point from two games against a team way down the list does not exactly help.

With Morocco and Algeria both winning their games, Rohr and his lads will need to get their World Cup qualifier off to a good start to keep their current position of third on the continental rankings.