Having managed five games as Akwa United’s head coach, with the club still on the drop zone with just five points from a possible fifteen, we take a look at the tactics and formations of the Brazilian thus far.
ADDITIONS AND DEPARTURES OF THE SIDE
With a lot of quality players added to the side, many would expect Akwa United to be leading their quarter of the league by now, in contrast to these thoughts, the promise keepers are in the relegation zone, fighting tooth and nail to avoid the drop at this infant stage of the season.
13 players were reportedly signed to join the side, with the experiences of Oshaniwa, an ex-international, Mfon Udoh, current Nigerian League
Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Kelly Kester, Gata, Ariwachukwu Emmanuel, Gabriel Wasa, Ezekiel Bassey Victor Mbaoma with most recent Michael Ibe all departing the club.
The summary of these departures have seen two holding midfielders ( Kelly Kester and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi ), a central defender and a vice-captain (
The balancing of the signings is truly a cause to worry. A more formidable midfield pairing of Kelly Kester and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi who were always in the middle of the park, scratching and searching for balls, doing the dirty jobs in midfield, giving the defence a lighter job, all gone with just one midfielder brought in who is more of an attack minded midfielder in Da Silva. Oshaniwa was brought in to cover for Wasa, which is not a like for like replacement, with Wasa an attacking minded defender and Oshaniwa the opposite.
Bassey and Gata left, no winger of their quality brought in. Michael Ibe left, no attacking midfielder to replace him, with only a fortified replacement in the attack – Mfon Udoh who is capable of doing even more of what Mbaoma could do. Already nicking in two goals and providing two assists.
THE 3-6-1 AND 3-5-2 FORMATIONS ( FAILURES AND ACHIEVEMENTS )
These formations had produced two points from a possible twelve for the Promise Keepers. Many would call it a three man defence, but I call it a five man defence which has seen Akwa lined up a defence with the likes of Etboy, Dennis Nya, Atuloma, Kodjovi and Oshaniwa, all defenders featuring in a single game for a side, thereby giving opponents the opportunity to dominate the midfield even at the Nest of Champions – a supposed fortress.
Etboy, with a lot of attacking qualities in him was not given the freedom to roam the touch line and press high up the pitch, instead, he was given a 30% attacking duty, with a 70% defending duty. Oshaniwa, a more defensive minded left back was given the left wing back role with the same percentage of duty. Kodjovi was a better option to play ahead of him and press the line high, but the coach opted otherwise.
Maintaining and keeping possession was another concern of this 3-6-1 and 3-5-2 formations. They always tried to play the ball with the midfielders which are placed on a three man midfield, passing the ball sideways to accommodate the midfielders, thereby causing a slow transition of the game, no space for a swift counter attack when the two or one striker at some points does not have the necessary support quickly, the entire team suffers the setback when the ball is played backwards just for the midfielders to come out and join the attack after their defending duties.
With the five man defence, Akwa United went on to concede six goals in four matches, scoring just three in the process, which put them at the bottom of their log in the abridge league.
Akwa have conceded goals in all four matches that these said formations have been played, thereby highlighting showing how useless both formations are for the team.
Abdu Maikaba had some training sessions in his time with the three man defence, trying Etboy Akpan and Gabriel Wasa on the flanks with Ifeanyi Ifeany always in the midfield to spray the passes wide. Ariwachukwu , Dennis Nya and God’spower Igudia all Marshalled the defence, but it wasn’t working as he was never comfortable using it in matches.
THE 4-4-2 FORMATION
After a failed trial of the 3-5-2 and 3-6-1 formations, Rafael Everton looked elsewhere aside from his most preferred formations for result to come. The 4-4-2 formation was next to try.
The players having played this formation under former boss, Maikaba but with a different midfield did well to win the first game implementing the formation.
Everton started Etboy Akpan, Dennis Nya, Elu and Kodjovi in the four-man
This 4-4-2 formation, though strange for the players as opposed to that of Maikaba, produced the first clean sheet and victory of the season for the team. It was also the first time Egerton’s men had scored more than two goals in a single game.
A midfield of two holding midfielders with an attacking midfielder has been the best midfield formation and tradition of Akwa United, who always have two wingers to play in a midfield position but from flanks and providing assists for the attackers, just like in the days of Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson at Manchester United. The team always have a creative midfielder just behind the striker, like Al Hassan and later Michael Ibe, with Barnabas Imenga Jnr now the only creative midfielder in stock who unfortunately is always on the bench, while the coach decides to use a flat
THE INCONSISTENCY OF GOALKEEPERS AND MULTIPLE PAIRINGS AT THE CENTER BACK
The best thing that could happen for a team is to have a stable option in between the sticks. After the arrival of Cameronian International and Goal Keeper, Jean Efala, it was certain the club was fortified behind. Unfortunately, with Olorenleke starting the first match of the season as first choice, he conceded a goal which irked fans.
Efala was promoted to replace Ojo against Kano Pillars where he put up a sterling performance to help Akwa United grab an away point providing Everton a reason to start him again ahead of Leke in Uyo.
Unfortunately, Efala equally conceded a dine minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw against Maikaba’s Plateau United. This caused him to be dropped for Olorenleke to be brought on again when they travelled to Lafia to play Nasarawa United. Leke again conceded another goal that should have been avoided, and was dropped again.
The cause for this would also be questioned on the multiple pairing of the central defenders, a goalkeeper would always get acquainted with his men in front, knowing their abilities and inabilities, with the defenders, also knowing when to commit themselves to safe their goalkeeper and when to let go.
The pairings of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic, Diego Godin and Miranda at Atletico Madrid, Carlos Puyol and Pique at Barcelona and Carragar with Skrtle at Liverpool would always proved to be the best of their times, but the brain behind their sterling performance was the consistency of the pairings.
Ariwachukwu Emmanuel and God’spower Igudia had a perfect pairing during their time at Akwa United, but so far this season, we have seen Nennis Nya,Kodjovi, Elu, Atuloma, Alimi all featuring in the defence that should be three or two central defenders as the case may be. The inconsistency of the Coach’s options at the back contributing to the flaws of the goalkeepers.
THE STRUCTURES AND RESTRUCTURING OF THE MIDFIELD. ( WHERE IS THE DIAMOND MIDFIELD? )
We have seen some changes in the midfield too which is the most sensitive position of any football team. A poor performance of the midfield will certainly affect the performance of the entire team. The traditional diamond midfield Akwa United have been known to have is gone.
Last season, Michael Ibe scored some key goals for the side whenever the strikers were all covered up, thereby helping the team with important results. But this season, the lack of a crative attacking midfielder is one of the reasons Akwa are suffering to have the goals coming.
The three man flat midfield gives the opposite defenders a lighter work to grab the attacker and mark him out of the game, but with a diamond midfield, it is not so. Everton’s tactics in midfield is below per. Despite the 3-0 victory in the run, the opponents had a larger share of possession in Uyo especially in the first 45 minutes when the game was at 0-0 against Go Round F.C.
Wide men are the ones winning games for teams these days, but it is a surprise why Everton has decided to play without wingers at times and one winger in some occasion. With the availability of Obata, Ubong Friday, Ndifreke Effiong, Daniel Ekpo, there’s a lot of pace and power in the flank untapped. This is a concern for the team.
WHERE DOES AKWA UNITED NEED TO IMPROVE
From his time at Ifeanyi Ubah F.C, Coach Rafael Everton has been known to be having issues in
Now with 5 matches gone, Akwa United have scored six goals and conceded the same number. Akwa United look like a team experiencing some difficulties in defense despite the qualities of defenders in the side which already is a concern.
The team should endeavour to concede less, have a stable midfield pairing to be able to keep possession as Akwa Ibom fans always like good football to ensure Everton’s long term stay with the club.
The duo of Mfon Udoh and Ndifreke Effiong in attack should be maintained while wide men ( wingers ) adopted with a possible return to a diamond midfield.
With Olorenleke still expected to be back in goal, Akwa United can indeed return to winning ways week in, week out.