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Over the last two days of qualification, three Sub-Saharan sides have advanced to the World Cup. Each will be heading to the international high table espousing a different approach and bringing varied qualities to the global stage.
Only Cameroon possess a plethora of imposing defensive midfielders, once ubiquitous with West African sides heading to the World Cup.
Nigeria have the nimble, astute Ogenyi Onazi, who prefers interceptions to crunching tackles, operating alongside the visionary, but staid John Obi Mikel. The Cote d’Ivoire boast the pit bull, 5’11 Cheik Tiote, alongside the all-round dynamism of Yaya Toure.
What all three sides lack, however, is a truly creative influence in the heart of midfield. Certainly, Toure can be a creative influence, but his main contribution is his power and poise as a box-to-box midfielder, rather than as an elite playmaker.
Eto’o even tried to compensate for the Indomitable Lions’ lack of midfield innovation by dropping deep, not just behind the forward, but behind the midfield, where he functioned as a deep-lying playmaker, just ahead of the defence.
All three qualified sides will bring different approaches to the table next summer, but don’t expect too much in the way of midfield creativity.