Etebo Gets Free Kick Duties, Balogun Gets Tough

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Etebo (centre) in Eagles' training

Two summer signings at clubs in England, Oghenekaro Etebo and Leon Aderemi Balogun have shown signs of taking up special responsibilities in Friday’s match against Iceland, especially as they concern converting set pieces against their opponents and blocking them at the other end.

While Etebo is expected to join Victor Moses in the aspect of taking free kicks that are expected to floor Iceland, Balogun will lead the way in blocking the Eagles’ defence to prevent similar leakages like what happened against Croatia.

All this is according to information on offer from the Eagles’ final training session before Friday’s match, in which Nigeria will look to take advantage of free kicks when they take on Iceland in their second group game at the ongoing World Cup 2018 in Russia.

While speaking on the areas his team need to work on, Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr said he is not just worried about their inability to defend properly in set piece situation, but the players and crew are also working on being effective in converting set piece of their own.

Nigeria where undone by their inability to defend properly in set piece situation in their 0-2 loss against Croatia on Saturday, and Rohr said it came to him as a shock because the team didn’t concede from set piece in two years.

He further said, the duo of Etebo and Moses are two players in his team who are going to be very useful against Iceland in every free-kick situation on Friday.

Similarly, Balogun was outstanding when the Eagles had a training session which lasted close to two hours with emphasis on defending high balls into the box as they prepare to take on Iceland on Friday.

The session, which was open for the first 15 minutes before the real drill was done behind closed doors, perfected strategies to beat Iceland with tactics of the coach.

Rohr emphasised on the team’s inability to defend properly, a problem which cost them dearly against Croatia, the coach also took out time to address the issue of scoring goals.

Therefore, the main highlight was a drill on defending set piece with the defenders who are expected to start lining up against high balls which were whipped in by other players.

The quartet of Shehu Abdullahi, William Troost-Ekong, Bryan Idowu and Balogun were all involved in the drill on defending set piece, which is a sign that they are most likely to start against Iceland on Friday.

Top man during the drills was Brighton new signing, Balogun, who distinguished himself with his ability not to only judge the flight of the ball but also organise with him to help the team keep it shape while defending.

Rohr explained: “We know they are very good in set-pieces and we are working on it. You can work on it day and night, but you must have a good concentration and a good head.

“We hadn’t conceded a goal from set-pieces for two years and suddenly, you are playing against teams who are stronger in this exercise.

“The important thing is for you to have good specialists for the kick. We have Moses and Etebo. Set-pieces will be much better in the next match for us.”

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