Nigeria 4-0 Libya: What did we learn?

Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was the youngest Super Eagles squad member at the FIFA World Cup in 2018. IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria moved above Libya into second place in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group with a 4-0 victory in Uyo on Saturday, as Odion Ighalo netted his first international hat-trick to boost the Super Eagles' hopes of reaching Cameroon.

The Super Eagles scored early when Ighalo won and converted a penalty, but they had to weather an early storm from the visitors before the Changchun Yatai forward added two more.

Samuel Kalu put the icing on the cake with a fine late effort.

Here are the key lessons learned from a memorable afternoon in Uyo.


It would take a heart of stone not to feel the goosebumps as fans at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium chanted Ighalo's name as he was subbed off for Isaac Success.

The striker has endured more than his fair share of vitriol from fans following a less than stellar World Cup.

However, it is a credit to Gernot Rohr that he kept faith with his striker in spite of all that, and Ighalo rewarded that faith richly with this plunder.

Ighalo never stopped believing, and it wasn't just about the goals; his overall play also caught the eye.

His hustle to nick the ball off the Libya keeper and win himself a penalty, and the ice-cold calm to put it away were signs of his mental strength.

He also demonstrated his confidence and composure as he beat the keeper superbly for Nigeria's second, and determination as he netted the third.

These are the characteristics of a top striker; to keep self belief even as the fans have lost their faith.


Both teams would have been on level terms within six minutes of Ighalo's opener but for a stupendous save by Uzoho.

The young goalkeeper was alert to make a monster reflect save after Motasem Sabbou's cross evaded the Nigeria defence and was powerfully met by Anis Saltou.

It was a save reminiscent of Vincent Enyeama's miracle efforts for the Super Eagles, and would seem to indicate that Uzoho has finally come of age as Nigeria's first-choice goalkeeper.

He still needs to invest time in his footwork, after looking nervy over the last two games with balls played back to him from his defenders.


Speaking of which, Uzoho should have never had to make that save if his defence wasn't giving the opposition so many good looks at him.

Leon Balogun struggled against Anis Saltou, Shehu Abdullahi allowed the left-back Motasem Sabbou to cross confidently, and both Balogun and William Troost-Ekong missed their headers.

Libya did not sit back and defend, and that attitude caused far too many problems for the Nigerians in the first half.

If they had scored at 1-0, it could have been an entirely different game altogether.


Rohr's Super Eagles can't seem to handle pressing, at both ends of the pitch.

Players were almost always consistently a step behind to make tackles, which meant the Libyans - and other teams - can simply pass their way around them when they tried to press.

On the other hand, their movement when they had the ball did not look good enough to avoid the opposition press.

They get away with it on the whole because of their superior quality, but it is a negative that needs to be fixed, especially before the AFCON next year.


It's looking a long road back into the starting lineup for Simon.

Once one of the first names on the teamsheet, injury cost him his place and now that he has returned it is to a side very unlike the one he left.

Ahmed Musa has not only won his place back on the back of superb performances for club and country, but Samuel Kalu has emerged as an excellent option on the opposite side.

When captain John Obi Mikel returns, Alex Iwobi could return to his place as a winger, and he is still higher up in the pecking order than Simon.

It appears it will take injury, loss of form or just plain rotation for Simon to return to the field for the Eagles.

While that may be disappointing for the Levante forward, it is quite an encouraging problem for Rohr and Nigerians to have.