Osimhen out, Dennis out – Who should lead the attack for the Super Eagles at Afcon?


Two new but familiar names have replaced the Napoli and Watford strikers…and questions have arisen over who should lead the line at Afcon

Osimhen out, Dennis out

Slavia Prague forward Peter Olayinka and Olympiacos forward Henry Onyekuru have made it into the Super Eagles squad following some unfortunate circumstances which led to Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis being dropped from the squad.Both strikers were shoo-ins to lead the line together or separately for Nigeria at Cameroon. However, interim manager Augustine Eguavoen will now have to tweak his tactics to make do with the names available.In this feature, GOAL takes a look at the possible attacking options for the Super Eagles ahead of their 19th appearance at the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Awoniyi and Ighalo in a two-striker system

Alongside Sadiq Umar, Taiwo Awoniyi and Odion Ighalo are the only out-and-out strikers in the team after the latest squad shake up. A formation with the both of them up front and one of Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi or Joe Aribo behind them could work out for Eguavoen.

Sadiq Umar as a lone striker

Umar has been in fine form this season in the LaLiga Segunda division, with eight goals and seven assists in 19 games this season for UD Almeria.

His goals are a key reason why the club is sitting six points clear at the top of the LaLiga 2 table. Umar has been deployed mostly in a 4-2-3-1 at his club which has contributed to his super performances so far.

With two new left-wingers in Olayinka and Onyekuru now in the squad, a front four of Umar, Olayinka/Onyekuru, Iheanacho and Samuel Chukwueze could serve Eguavoen’s purposes well enough.

Iheanacho as a supporting striker with any other forward

“Senior Man” has produced some of his best football playing off the back of a target front man. He was expected to play in the same role with Victor Osimhen up front but for the Napoli striker’s unfortunate exclusion.

However, with other high-flying strikers like Umar, Ighalo and Awoniyi who are currently enjoying their football at their various clubs, Iheanacho may not need to be deployed anywhere else.

Switch to 4-3-3 with any of the strikers

Gernot Rohr often tinkered with the formation which led to the team having no identity.

The team’s most recent formation was 3-5-2 with Ighalo and Osimhen as the two strikers up front. Both were eventually replaced by Paul Onuachu (who misses out due to injury) and Iheanacho.

4-3-3 provides a balance for the current crop of players, as either of Awoniyi, Umar, Ighalo and Iheanacho can stand alone at the top of the attack.

Iheanacho as the sole striker upfront

Playing in a lone striker role, the 25-year-old has been tried by Leicester City a few times, and often by Gernot Rohr with the Super Eagles. It remains the safest option for Eguavoen who may not want to throw in the new players straight into the thick of things.

Iheanacho as a sole striker offers a lot more than out-and-out centre forward play as he can shift in and out of the line of sight of defenders to provide an extra man at all times for his teammates.

However, this is unlikely to happen as Iheanacho plays best with other attackers around him or in a two striker formation.