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SPORTS UPDATE

Eguavoen Ponders Possibility Of Playing ‘False Nine’ During AFCON 2021

Super Eagles’ interim coach, Augustine Eguavoen is pondering over the possibility of adopting a tactical approach that will have a ‘false nine’ leading his squad’s attack at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations, sportsdayonline.com reports.

This is due to the absence of SSC Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen, who was expected to be Nigeria’s top striker during the impending competition, while the next in line, Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis was withdrawn from the squad by his club, Watford of England.

With the third option, Al-Shabab of Saudi Arabia hitman, Odion Jude Ighalo, who was top scorer overall at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, also seemingly stopped from attending this year’s edition in Cameroon, Eguavoen admitted he is in a tight spot.

The Eagles’ former defender, captain and head coach has now taken a closer look at options in Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin of Germany, Kelechi Iheanacho from Leicester City of England, Henry Onyekuru from Olympiakos of Greece, Umar Sadiq from Almeria of Spain, Ahmed Musa from Fatih Karagumruk of Turkey and Peter Olayinka from Slavia Prague of Czech Republic.

The gaffer, who won bronze at AFCON 2006 in Egypt as Eagles’ head coach and is now technical director of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), however, concluded that none of the remaining forwards he has on offer is a real top striker or arrowhead.

Of the lot, only Awoniyi and Sadiq have played the top-nine role in Nigeria’s national colours, but that came at youth levels, thereby leaving ‘Egu’ toying with the idea of lining out a quasi-arrowhead, which has been dubbed ‘false nine’ in modern football parlance.

With uncertain now looming over the availability of Ighalo, who actually stepped out of retirement in November to be part of the campaign in Cameroon, Eguavoen is also looking at the possibility of exploiting the versatile form and skills of CSKA Moscow of Russia winger, Chidera Ejuke, who the gaffer reasoned could also be deployed to lead the attack from deep.

Eguavoen concluded: “Osimhen is out; it’s also a bit of a worry. Hopefully Odion comes; if he doesn’t come it’s a bit of a worry.

“We have Awoniyi, we have Olayinka, we might be forced to play false nine, we have Iheanacho, we have Chidera who can also come from behind and fill the role.

“So, we might just have to adjust the system of play. I might play with a striker; I might not play with a striker it depends. Osimhen is out Olayinka is the next person to fill in.”

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