Cyril C. NwokejiMonday, November 11, 2013




he return leg of our two-legged confrontation against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia is around the corner; and the question of Brazil 2014 to be a reality or myth would be answered on the 16th of November, in Calabar, Nigeria. Conventional wisdom dictates that the Super Eagles, with the advantages at their disposal: an away win; players of better experience and quality and the 12th man advantage, should conveniently qualify for Brazil 2014, without much ado. Sometimes in life and more especially, in soccer, conventional wisdom, or rather logic, doesn't always hold sway. That is the reason yours sincerely, is writting this article, to caution our players against complacency, and for them to remain fully focused in their preparations for this tie and on match day, to be tactically disciplined and to fight for every ball, from beginning to the end; if the scores hopefully remain favourable to the Super Eagles, it is then we can start the victory celebrations; certainly not before that time.

How can the Super Eagles defeat the Walya Antelopes, in Calabar, Nigeria, come 16th November, 2014? On condition that the God of soccer is favourable to us on that day, the solution to containing the Walya Antelopes should not be far - featched. Like I said earlier on, we have players of better quality and experience than the Ethiopians. Over-running them should not be too difficult, if our players remain focused, work hard and are tactically disciplined. But how concretely ?

I expect Stephen Keshi to go for an attacking brand of soccer, preferably, in a 4-3-3 fashion. I expect the players to exhibit good mobility with this formation. This means that one expects the wingers, with loss of ball possession, to fall back their respective lines, to cover up what ever spaces that may arise in mid-field, which potentially could be utilised by the Ethiopians. This is more especially so, since the Ethiopians, like in Addis Ababa, would most likely opt for a 4-4-2 formation, which presents a four- man mid-field, which potentially could usurp the three-man mid-field of the Super Eagles' 4-3-3 formation.

The idea behind the highly mobile 4-3-3 formation, is to defend in a 4-5-1 formation, when we lose the ball ( with the wingers joining the mid-field and defence ); and attack in a 4-3-3, or even 4-2-4 formation, when we are on the offensive, ( with the offensive mid-fielder, joining the attack ). In other words, when we are on the defensive, we should defend en masse, but with the OPTION of counter-attacking - in a 4-5-1 formation; and when we are on the offensive, we should attack en masse, but with the necessary PRECAUTION - in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-4 formation. We should not allow the Ethiopians usurp the mid-field, like they did, in Addis Ababa. We should control the mid-field from the first till the last minute; and impose our game on the Ethiopians; this is the only way, all things being, we can defeat them clearly. Allowing the Ethiopians, to control the mid-field, like the did, for all of 65minutes, can be suicidal! We shouldn't allow that, considering the aggregate scores so far, they are pushed with their backs to the wall; and thus desperate. A desperate man can be dangerous !

To enable us play well in the above-stated manner, our players should first of all forget the result of the first leg, and play as if this match were a cup final; a cup final of finals! On a realistic note, this match is the most important match of 2013, for the Super Eagles; more important than the Nations' cup finals. The reason being that while nobody gave the Super Eagles a chance of getting to the finals of the Nations' cup, talkless of winning it, we all expect nothing less than the world cup ticket, this time around. As a matter of fact, this is the most important match of the last four years for the Super Eagles! Thus, we expect players, who will come out smoking on match day, and who would give 120 percent effort.

Which players do we expect on that day, in the starting line-up of the Super Eagles ?

One expects Vincent Enyeama in goal; he is currently the best keeper in the French first division. One expects the same back four, like in Addis Ababa, with the exception, being the likely re-entry of the CEO of defence - if match -fit - Kenneth Omeruo. The defenders should work for one another and not give up space to the Ethiopians. One expects a better organised and more robust defensive organization than in Addis Ababa. The mid- field in Addis Ababa, may still be retained, under leadership of the CEO John Mikel Obi and ably assisted by Ogenyi Onazi, and complimented by the "trouble -shooting " Nnamdi Oduamadi; who didn't have a great game in Addis Ababa; but would be expected, to raise his game and run at the Ethiopian defence, like he did against the Malawians, in Calabar, in September, thereby forcing them to make mistakes, as well as create space for the strikers ,with his close ball control and dribbling skills, in tight situations. Nnamdi Oduamadi, is no doubt a player with class, and on a good day, can create a lot of problems, to any defence. Let's hope the 16th of September, is one of those days.

And the offensive front? One expects Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa on the flanks; they are fast wingers, who on a good day will not only bring the needed width to our attack, but will cause a lot of troubles for the Ethiopian defence. Also their ability to interchange beautifully with each other on the flanks, would be an added advantage. One hopes they would be in their best form on match day. The central striker would be most likely Emmanuel Emenike. An Emenike - less Super Eagles attack, would be unfathomable. Analysts have talked of an Emenike - Ideye attacking combination, that would be for Stephen Keshi to decide. A Super Eagles' attack that is in form, would tear the Ethiopian defence to shreds; from the first leg match, this appears to be their achilles hiel .

In conclusion, the ticket to Brazil, still needs confirmation ,let's hope our Super Eagles would do just that on match day, with fine, sleeky, positional play - oriented, sexy soccer; which is fast becoming their trade mark under Stephen Keshi 's guidance.