Odegbami gives damning report card to Super Eagles defence, spares only 2 from criticism

Nigeria legend Segun Odegbami has provided a scathing assessment of the Super Eagles' defence, stating that a lack of quality is behind their disappointing loss to Benin and diminished prospects of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

The 71-year-old former forward believes only Ola Aina and William Troost-Ekong possess the quality required to represent Nigeria. Incidentally, both were unavailable for the four matches played under Coach Finidi George.

Odegbami gives damning report card to Super Eagles defence, bemoans Troost-Ekong & Aina absences
Photo by Icon Sport

In their absence, the Super Eagles failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those four games, conceding a total of six goals, including two against Benin in a crushing defeat that has almost dashed their World Cup qualification hopes.

For comparison, Nigeria kept four clean sheets and conceded only three goals during their run at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), with Troost-Ekong deservedly named Best Player.

Odegbami: Bonafide defenders urgently needed in the Super Eagles

Segun Odegbami feels strongly that the Benin defeat was a direct consequence of the general lack of quality throughout the defence.

“At the full-back positions, only Ola Aina has shown consistency and exceptional brilliance down the right side of the field over several years,” The 1980 AFCON winner wrote in his column for local publication Vanguard.

“The left side has been the opposite, porous and so weak sometimes that Aina has had to be moved to the left side to cover up for this weakness on occasions.”

Odegbami gives damning report card to Super Eagles defence, bemoans Troost-Ekong & Aina absences
Photo by NFF

Shifting his focus to central defence, Odegbami sees a more concerning situation, “The centre of Nigeria's defence line has been weak. At AFCON 2023, William Troost-Ekong rose to the challenge and provided leadership and great cover for that weakness.

The first goal scored by Benin Republic against Nigeria in the absence of William clearly confirms this glaring weakness. There are no bonafide central defenders currently in the Nigerian team.”

Odegbami's comments are sure to spark debate amongst Nigerian football fans. With World Cup qualification hopes in the balance, the pressure is now on the incoming coach to find solutions at the back if the Super Eagles are to return to contention.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.