After Gernot Rohr failed to give gifted winger Anayo Iwuala a good number of playing time while Samuel Kalu and Moses Simon were out, there are little chance of him featuring upon their returns during the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Whether Rohr made an error by not giving Anayo a proper chance, is open for debate.
Anayo did make his Super Eagles debut, playing nine minutes in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Benin Republic, and then the final 4 against Lesotho.
When the 21-year-old looks back at his season, he will see this as a tremendous achievement, to make his international debut.
Yet when you consider the circumstances which led to his chance, it may have been a wasted opportunity from Rohr not to give him more game time.
Rohr backs his stars, but also lacks bravery in the way Sunday Oliseh did. The Franco-German is too cautious with his team selection.
The Super Eagles boss should have used the opportunity when Kalu and Simon were out, to give Anayo more game time, to have a real look at him.
How long will it be before the same pathway opens up again for the winger?
It’s possible Anayo could get a chance if Nigeria seal a place for the World Cup Qualification play offs with a game or two to spare. If not, we will be looking to the future.
Benefits of rotation
The opportunity to give Anayo time came in the home tie with Lesotho.
Anayo sat on the bench until the final 4 minutes.
It will be recalled that Anayo tormented the Benin Republic backline in his nine minutes show at Stade Charles De Gaulle.
Rohr would have had to be braver with Anayo, and give him 90 minutes against Lesotho.
It seems like an opportunity missed to not have done so. The coaching staff could have learned so much more about the prodigious young talent by putting their trust in him.
Anayo Iwuala returned to Enyimba and continued his roller coaster form, this time tearing apart Setif with his performance and assist.
Rohr’s caution with local players seems ill-balanced with his over reliance on foreign pros. This may be something he has to re-think when he analysis where he can improve as a coach.