Friday, March 30, 2018

Fanendo Adi- World Cup dark horse?

180 minutes, 9 shots at goal, three on target, six off on target with a goal from the spot don’t read good (from an attacking point of view) for any team lest the Super Eagles who panned out those stats in the two friendlies with Poland and Serbia.

A 1-0 win over Poland masked how inefficient the team was in attack but it all came home to roost when they were played out of the park by Serbia and lost 2-0 at The Hive last Tuesday.

It would be hasty to press the panic button yet because friendly games are meant to show the level a team is and what areas need to be sorted out.

A 4-2 win over Argentina was greeted with praise from the Nigerian populace as the Eagle’s attack tore the Albiceleste to shreds.

However, the Serbia game brought the Eagles back to earth.

The Super Eagles game with Serbia clearly showed that the Super Eagles of Nigeria attack needs a bit of bite upfront going into a crucial tournament like the FIFA World Cup coming up in Russia.

Aside from the penalty that was converted by Victor Moses in the win against Poland, there wasn’t anything of worth to note in the Eagles attack.

Odion Ighalo’s introduction in the second half of the game with Serbia brought some spark to the attack as his hold up play and intelligence on the ball crafted out a few chances for the Eagles.

There is a pointer to this, and barring any unforeseen circumstance, the former Watford striker will surely look for his seat tag on the plane to Russia.

His importance cannot be overemphasized as Rohr has already hinted, via his scout Victor Agali, that ‘they’ are scouting for a big target man to complement the Eagles attack.

His line of thought falls within the suggestion that there is no Ighalo type striker in the fold right now and he (Rohr) has cast his net to fish out someone who can do the business for the team.

We need an attacker who can bully his way to goal, a striker who has the physical attribute to act like a battering ram as well as the technical ability to get past his marker and score goals.

A player in the mould of Fanendo Adi of Portland Timbers comes to mind as he fills these requirements as a player.

He fits the description.

At 6’3 and packed with power, Adi is a physical specimen and might just be that dark horse that can gate-crash into the team before the final roster is announced.

 A major force in the Major League Soccer, Adi has set his sights on claiming a spot on in the Super Eagles as preparations for the World Cup get into top gear. once described the 27-year-old as ‘the biggest, strongest and meanest number 9 in the league’- a huge testament to his exploits in the United States.

A well-rounded striker, he is the all-time goal scorer of the MLS side Portland Timbers with 55 goals in 115 games.

Former Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, apparently impressed with the Nigerian said Adi is an incredible physical specimen.

“Rarely do you see a player that big and that strong that can actually run the channels. He scored two goals in two games and we decided to sign him up immediately.”

“Let’s not mess around with the loan, let’s tie him up immediately.”

And that’s what the Portland Timbers did.

Adi isn't the fastest player around but makes that up with his quick thinking in the box and exceptional positioning. Once the ball is in the box, you can sure he is in there-somewhere to poke home or pick up loose balls, something that is needed in the Super Eagles.

His bring frame means he can hold off defenders and bring others into play while also laying assists for others to profit from.

Aside from his goalscoring exploits in the MLS, he has also represented European sides like Trencin (Slovakia), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), and  FC Copenhagen (Denmark) before teaming up with his current employers Portland Timbers.

He has played at the highest level having turned out for FC Copenhagen in the Uefa Champions League and Europa League so he won't be a duck out of water per international football.

Fanendo Adi was last invited to the Super Eagles for the doubleheader against Egypt in an AFCON qualifier but didn't get to take part in any of the games.He returned to the United States and kept doing what he knows how to do best-was banging in the goals on a consistent basis.

Odion Ighalo looks like the man on top of the attack for Rohr, that is almost certainly going to the World Cup but Adi might just be that ‘hammer and anvil’ combo with Ighalo- reminiscent of the Ideye/Emenike partnership at the 2013 AFCON.

If Rohr decides to go with Ighalo alone as the lone front-man, Adi can be a capable deputy, a shoe-in for that matter.

Clearly, Super Eagles need a striker in the mould of Fanendo Adi, a fox in the box, an attacker that can link up his teammates in a tight situation, someone who is good aerially and a person who can be relied on for goals.

Every World Cup year sees a dark-horse make the team at the last minutes.

It just might be Fanendo Adi this time out.

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