FEATURE ARTICLE

Bishop (Dr) David IbelemeWednesday, July 9, 2014
ibelemedo@yahoo.com
St. Ann's, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

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NIGERIA: GOING FORWARD AFTER WORLD CUP 2014

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posted the majority of this as a response to the excellent analysis by my secondary school classmate and friend, Cyril Nwokeji.

Cyril's analysis are always a joy to read and they are often featured on www.nigeriaworld.com You can check out his previous posts there.

He recommended that Coach Stephen Keshi's contract be extended immediately and I totally agree with him on that.

Along with the extension of Keshi's contract, I'd like to give some tactical advice, going forward. I sincerely believe that we have the talent to go as far as anyone in the World Cup. I propose the following tactical adjustment.

1. Upgrade our already strong defense with some cluster defending in the midfield and man to man, marking where needed so we don't continue to rely on the old zonal defending formation that we are well known for.

2. We need a genuine midfield play-maker. We cannot continue to rely on John Mikel Obi to fill this role seeing that his years of playing as a defensive midfielder at Chelsea has definitely altered his game permanently. We do need him to continue his role for us now as a defensive midfielder because it's now more natural for him. But we really need a play maker that can better organize the midfield giving us more possession and making us a strong attacking threat to any and everyone. This team really had none.

3. We need a more natural, wide playing, striker that can hold the ball and cause problems for defenders, rather than keep employing Emenike in that role. He (Emenike) is more of a clinical finisher but didn't get to play in this role during the World Cup.

In all, I totally agree that this was indeed our best tactical performance in the World Cup. Our last success (getting to the final 16, 16yrs ago) was primarily based on talent and guts, this one showcased us a team that can tactically compete once some basic adjustment are made.

The team showed that they respected their Coach by their disciplined play throughout the competition and we can certainly build on that.

4. Finally, I believe we need a lot more of our local talent to mix with the foreign professionals. They will give us "raw talent" that hasn't been diluted by the European clubs; who do so at will to suit their own styles. The professionals give us more discipline but the local boys give us more talent.

Though the entire team deserves commendation, please allow me to commend the following players individually: Enyeama, Yobo, Emenike, Efe, Mikel, Odemwinge and Musa.

The future is certainly bright for us.

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