For once in a very long while, the Super Eagles qualified for the World Cup without her fans having to return to their elementary Mathematics text books, or maybe a bit further, trying to permutate different possibilities on the last day. Particularly satisfying was qualifying without losing any match in the process.
Similarly, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have gone on to also ensure that there will be no off-the-pitch excuses for not doing well at the tournament. First, they sorted out the issues of bonuses of the players. Then they went on to satisfy the coach by extending his contract until after the African Nations Cup in 2019. More importantly, they went on to fix strategic friendly matches against top opponents. What more could we really ask for?
Life is good like the slogan of one popular television-making brand! The draws for the Super Eagles aren’t exactly favourable but when you’ve been able to defeat the ‘Almighty’ Argentina that had the likes of Aguero, in convincing fashion; bring on anyone is the slogan on everyone’s lips!
Now, moving forward to the friendly against Serbia, which many would have thought this Nigerian team should be able to beat, they’d go on to lose pitiably. The loss wasn’t exactly the problem, but the performance on the night was particularly unfriendly (some pun intended).
Let’s take a look at some of the talking points from the match especially as it relates to the
team’s preparation for the World Cup finals in June;
1. Francis Uzoho is certainly not Eyeama’s heir: The 19-year-old was drafted in by Gernot Rohr to fill the shoes of Vincent Enyeama who retired unceremoniously. Carl Ikeme was in goal for a while and did creditably well but the Wolverhampton number one was never going to be in for the long haul (regardless of current illness) going by his age. Rohr tried a few other goalkeepers before seemingly settling for Uzoho. However, judging by yesterday’s match, he did not give many a reason why he should get the look-in ahead of any of the keepers in contention. He could barely get a grip of his defenders, his distribution were half-the-time dodgy and he saves were far from convincing. To be fair, he’s 19 and can still go on to be a hit but Gianlugi Donarrumma isn’t 30 yeah?
2. What exactly is the Super Eagles style of Play: I don’t think that’s too much of a question to ask of a team preparing for the World Cup. One wasn’t sure if the plan was to play on the counter, utilise the wings, transit possession from defence to attack. The play seemed very disjointed and all over the place. Hold on, could it be ‘anywhere bele face?’
3. No midfield without Mikel: The match against Serbia clearly showed how important John Mikel Obi is to the Super Eagles midfield. The midfield could barely string forward and imaginative passes. The work rate off the ball was decent but they became clueless the moment they had the ball on their feet. Well, Mikel goes on to prove that Chinese products can be relied upon.
4. Individual play is lacking: In every team, there should be at least one player who can be relied upon when everything has been tried and no success to show for it. The Super Eagles is lacking that player that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and create some magic and unpredictability in difficult times. Please don’t even mention Victor Moses.
It is evident that this is not the finished article for the Super Eagles leading into the World Cup but there are still a few months to go. We trust that the Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles has noticed some of these flaws and will work to improve them.
These are some of my observations. You can go on to agree or disagree with me. You could also point areas in which work needs to be done in the Super Eagles squad.