The reasons I expect a "world class performance" from Kelechi Iheanacho and Nigeria against Togo
As I set about my work this morning, I received a few notifications (aka texts) about what I think about Nigeria's friendly match-up against Togo today. A few things immediately came to mind:
(1) Togo has one of the leakiest defenses in West Africa
Having conceded 9 goals and only scored 2 in their last competitive games against top African opposition, Togo also failed to qualify from their group at the last AFCON. To say they have a leaky defense is actually an understatement as they have only one clean sheet in those same games. Togo is finding it rough and historically they have performed poorly against their West African neighbors. It is a good chance for Nigeria to sharpen it's beak as the Super Eagles look to tackle Bafana Bafana of South Africa in 10 days for the AFCON qualifiers.
(2) The Togolese have yet to win in their last 5 games
Togo's last 5 games consist of 3 losses and 2 draws; with the losses coming against Egypt, Morocco and DR Congo to whom they conceded 3 goals each. Nigeria consider themselves on the level of these teams (if not better) and are only just getting started. Whether Togo can breakdown Nigeria's young and inexperienced defense is questionable, especially if Adebayor does not come to play. Their attack may be decent but can they keep it together against one of Africa's most talented sides?
(3) The Nigeria attack consists of players looking for big moves in Europe
Iheanacho, Musa, Kayode, Onyekuru, Moses Simon, Etebo and Alhassan Ibrahim have all been linked with moves to, and within the top 5 leagues this summer. Among these forwards, I expect Kelechi Iheanacho to shine the brightest, followed by Musa and perhaps Osimhen. Historically, certain caliber of strikers have been known to explode when there is some uncertainty, and speculation about their future. Essentially, they market themselves to gain the upper hand in transfer negotiations. Eto'o against Madrid was the equivalent of a cup final (for him); Adebayor whenever he wanted a pay raise; El-fenomeno (Ronaldo) - every tournament, since he was always in demand throughout his career. I do believe that Kelechi falls into this category! His displays against MLS teams when he was "on trial" for Man City showed the mindset of a player who will perform when $omething is at stake.
(4) Gernot Rohr has been quietly putting together an armada
While other African teams have been "distracted" by AFCON tournaments, Confederations cup qualifiers etc, General Rohr has been slowly building an attacking armada which Nigeria has not seen the like of since the 1993 set. I do believe he is building his team around Etebo, Iheanacho, Ndidi and Iwobi. With Alhassan and Onyekuru sprinkling in the much needed flair. While he is sorting out his defence, I do think he now has a set of attacking player with very different skillsets to give him much needed tactical flexibility.