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 By Colin Udoh

Positive signs for Nigeria after Gernot Rohr debuts with a win over Tanzania

Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho's 79th minute strike was enough to secure Nigeria the win over Tanzania.

Kelechi Iheanacho's star does not look like it will be on the wane anytime soon.

Barely one week after signing a contract which made his £85,000-a-week the highest by a Nigerian in Europe, he showed why his stock is so high and climbing.

The Manchester City youngster's late goal separated Nigeria and Tanzania in their nation's final match of the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifiers. Neither side have been about to secure progress to the ANQ, so this was as good as a friendly, but Iheanacho's goal was good enough to win the Nations Cup.

From a short corner kick, the starlet took the ball, and fainted a shot as his marker closed in, buying himself a yard of space before unleashing a venomous volley that left the woodwork rattling and all-but-amputated the goalkeeper.

The quality of the strike was a fitting tribute to the game, where the Super Eagles looked a side reincarnated. New Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr's touch appears to be one imbued with magic -- so far.

Here's five thoughts from the match:

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1. Increased tempo

It is just one game, but already there are good signs under Rohr's stewardship, starting with the tempo of the play.

The Eagles set and controlled a high tempo, high energy pressing game. Tanzania could barely get out of their half as the Nigerians hunted them down with real menace.

By the end, possession was heavily skewed in favour of the Eagles, but what warmed the hearts of the fans was not so much the possession, as the non-stop passion from start to finish.

2. The Balogun and Troost-Ekong dilemma

Nigeria's biggest weakness in recent years has been at centre-back.

Over the last five-odd years, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun and a medley of domestic players have been rotated through the positions. None have quite locked down a spot.

On evidence in this game, Rohr may have found the answer going forward.

That's if Balogun can stay healthy. The 28-year-old Mainz defender has seen his international progress held back by a succession of injuries.

He is not the quickest, but his full-blooded commitment to tackles, like the one late in the first half that almost sent both man and ball to the stands, is one that while needed, could be the cause of his troubles. Oh, and for the record, he won the ball cleanly in that tackle.

3. Victor Moses

Hero and villain at the same time, the Chelsea man represented the best and worst of the Super Eagles on the day.

Most of the Nigerian play, whether by fortune or design, seemed to be channeled through him.

He worked hard, chased down causes, won balls he had no right to, took on and beat players repeatedly and generally represented the most dangerous threat posed by the Super Eagles. But his final ball could only be charitably described as being on the wrong end of the quality spectrum.

Perhaps the heavy pitch contributed, but better decision-making in the box would have solved that problem somewhat, especially on two occasions in the first half when a wide open Odion Ighalo had an empty net in front of him as Moses tried for glory.

Victor Moses
Victor Moses' build up play for Nigeria wa excellent, though the Chelsea man lacked a final ball.

4. Another blank for Ighalo

One was left wondering on Saturday what Ighalo has to do for the ball to go into the back of the net.

He made the runs, got into the perfect positions, even worked himself an opening or two, but just could not get the wind to blow his way.

There are those who have argued that the lone striker tactics of a 4-3-3 do not suit the Watford striker. And it might well be a valid argument.

While the shape did not change significantly, the introduction of Brown Ideye sparked the Nigerian attack back into life.

Perhaps it might be time for Rohr to explore the two striker option? Something along the lines of a 4-3-1-2 or similar?

There might be a trade off in midfield numbers, but it is not as if the Super Eagles dominate the midfield anyway.

5. Twitter reaction

It has been a while since social media reaction to a Super Eagles match was way more positive than anything else.

Recently, apathy was the best the team could hope for. But despite the lean scoreline, many fans on social admitted there had been progress in a relatively short time.

The team looked better coached, and more organized, and created a ton of chances, the only black mark being their inability to score more than one goal from the 25 shots they had in target. Tanzania managed just three in response.

If this keeps up, there is the real danger that fans could fall in love with the Super Eagles again

Colin Udoh is a Nigeria football correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ColinUdoh.


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