The idea of playing Oghenekaro Etebo and Mikel Obi in the midfield, which was was effective for Nigeria in their recent World Cup 2018 qualifiers win over Algeria was actually a brain work of former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia.
Before Siasia took handles Etebo as his coach at U-23 level for Nigeria, the 20 year old CD Feirense ace has largely been played in the attack, on either flanks or as top striker but Siasia saw more in him and converted him to a midfielder with the license to bomb forward.
It was Siasia who first paired Etebo and Mikel in a midfield three with Eddy Onazi in the Super Eagles, in the games against Egypt during the ill fated attempt to qualify for next year Africa Cup of Nations.
However while Siasia played Etebo ahead of Mikel, new coach of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr played him just behind Mikel, a trick which worked like magic in the game against Algeria which Nigeria won 3-1.
The idea of playing Etebo behind Mikel was so done by Rohr due to Mikel’s lack of pace and playing Etebo behind means the Chelsea ace would be free to go forward with sufficient cover behind him, thanks to Etebo’s abilities to make up grounds with his pace.
That idea worked out well for the manager as Mikel was among the goalscorers, ironically he was set up by Etebo and the game was one of his best in Nigerian colours in a long time, particularly in the first half.