The foreign-based trio of Taiwo Awoniyi, Sunday Faleye and Blessing Olabiran have been rated poor in their performances against Sudan during Thursday’s Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifier.
The Nigerian under-23 squad, Olympic Eagles, lost the game 1-0 in Omdurman, and pundits have now gone to town citing Awoniyi, Faleye and Olabiran among the stars who fell short, when they were indeed meant to show the way to the array of home-based players in the squad.
Racing Genk of Belgium forward, Stephen Odey was excluded from the scathing marks, as he was the most lively player for Nigeria in the first half, though his misses came back to hunt his team as Sudan took the lead with less than three minutes to go before the half time break.
A cheeky back hell from Walaa El Din broke the deadlock after Nigeria failed to clear their lines following a swift counter attack from Sudan. Both team went into the break with the host leading.
In the second half, the home team continued from where they left off with some nice interchange of passes and almost double their lead twice as Nigeria fail to carve out any meaningful chance.
Nigeria’s coach, Imama Amapakabo made three substitutions but at the end Sudan hung on to get a slim first leg advantage, while the ratings were very low for Awoniyi, Faleye and Olabiran from owngoalnigeria.com and showed grave defects that the crew will have to work before the reverse fixture on Tuesday in Asaba.
The verdicts read in part: “Blessing Olabiran – The Tambov of Russia wing forward had a day to forget, hardly got involved in the first half and when he did he was very wasteful in possession. A good dribbler base on the flashes he showed, his major problem was that he was not on the same wavelength with the rest of his teammates.
“Sunday Faleye – Put up a very impressive shift in the sense that he covered lot of grounds but where it matters most he was found wanting. His passes were wayward and his link up play was nowhere near the standard he achieved when he represented Nigeria at the 2018 CHAN Championship.
“Taiwo Awoniyi – A bit unfair to have him in the list because the service to do damage wasn’t there in the first place. He is however listed because when he did find space in the first half he couldn’t convert what would have given Nigeria the lead. In the second half he hardly had a touch of the ball.”