FEATURE ARTICLE

Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
A CANDID ADVICE TO COACH GERNOT ROHR!

Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, and NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick

"The Super Eagles of Nigeria, have a bright future and can realise their immediate and long term ambitions, given the correct developmental environment." Cyril C. Nwokeji

et me start by wishing my numerous readers, family, friends and mankind , a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2021. May the good Lord in his infinite mercy, continue to bless, guide and protect our every step in the new year and always; and, most especially, may he remove the COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued mankind for more than one year and also continue to forgive our sins as we constantly try to seek his face ! Amen!!!!!

The year 2021 will be very crucial to the fortunes of the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the new dispensation. If 'am not mistaken, the Super Eagles will play ten competitive matches in the 2022 Nations' cup and World cup qualifiers! It means ten crucial matches that could make or break the Super Eagles' ambitions in 2022.

The expectations are as usual high for the Super Eagles from the point of view of Nigerians. And why not, considering Nigeria's standards in soccer, the expectations couldn't be lower.

The critical question is: Can the Super Eagles meet these lofty expectations from their country men and women? The answer is a resounding yes!!!!!! The Super Eagles are sufficiently endowed in talents, coaching/tactical guidance and material resources to achieve their ambitions. In other words, they are sufficiently endowed to make hay.

One must however caution that notwithstanding the potentialities of the Super Eagles, a decent measure of caution is needed to enable the Super Eagles actualise their dreams and turn their potentiality to actuality. In other words, they should not and cannot be room for complacency!

The purpose of this piece is to give a candid advice to Coach Gernot Rohr on how to help him tinker a Super Eagles team that would deliver on the set objectives.

A closer look at the Super Eagles team, more especially, in the light of their performances in 2020, reveals a team that exhibited a decent measure of defensive frailties . They let in cheap goals, cheap goals that sometimes make a huge difference in the team's fortunes : a la the 4-4 draw against Sierra -Leone , in Benin City , Nigeria!

What do I mean concretely? The Super Eagles defence in three of their last four matches was below average!

How can the situation be remedied? The Super Eagles team : players and coaches, should use the second leg match against Sierra-Leone in Freetown as a template in their minds, to organise the Super Eagles' defence. In other words, from now onwards, they should play every game with the mind set of conceding no goals! This is certainly a lofty defensive ambition, and may not always be realistic; but me thinks that if they have this defensive mind set, they can at the very worst not take in more than one or two goals in a game. In other words, the game plan should be to score goals and prevent the opponents from scoring! This is a lofty ideal, but it is possible!

The importance of having a good defensive organisation in a team cannot be over emphasised. Yours sincerely belongs to the soccer school of thought that believes that: with a good attack, a team can win a match, but with a good defence, a team can win a tournament!

A number of examples will buttress my point: the French World cup- winning team of 1998, didn't have fantastic attackers, but prevailed on the rest of the world with a solid defensive organisation, and, thus, won the 1998 World cup on home soil!

The current African champions: Algeria, hitherto had a good team, but with a very weak defensive organisation. Consequently, at the 2017 African Nations' cup competition, they were eliminated in the first round, no thanks to a weak defensive organisation! When their coaching guards were changed, they brought in a coach who apparently shares my soccer philosophy, and, consequently, reorganised their defensive organisation. They won the very next edition of the Nations' cup competition in 2019! A closer look at the way the Algerians defend, reveals a team that emphasises mobility on the part of all the players. In other words, even the attackers are required to contribute copiously to their team's defensive strategy!

With regards the Super Eagles of Nigeria, yours sincerely will suggest to Coach Rohr, to fine tune the team's strategy to take care of the team's hopefully hitherto defensive frailties ! The match in Freetown in 2020, as earlier stated, is a good template from which to begin the defensive re-organisation of the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Added to this, yours sincerely will advise Coach Rohr, to consider employing the 4-5-1 formation! This formation was used against Brazil in the friendly in Singapore in 2019; and with good result! This system is a "hybrid system" that ensures a decent measure of defensive discipline, while at the same time, does not take away a team's offensive impulses!

It entails playing with four defenders in the conventional defensive positions and using five midfielders and of course one deepest striker.

How does it work concretely?

With four conventional defenders, the defensive positions will be taken care of in the conventional sense. With five mid-fielders, we should have two defensive mid-fielders, one to the left side of defence and the other to the right side of defence. The system provides for a central / cum creative mid-fielder, who will play as the coordinator- general in mid-field : the play maker, a la Alex Iwobi. The system also provides for two offensive mid-fielders, who should preferably operate from the flanks; in other words, offensive mid-fielder who should function as pseudo-wingers. When the team is under pressure they would together with the other mid-fielders recoil into the defence. The team would then operate in a strictly 4-5-1 formation : very defensive! And when the team is on the offensive, they will spread out into the wings; and the team will operate in temporary 4-3-3 formation in an offensive disposition!

In other words, the 4-5-1 formation being proposed, is actually a hybrid of the : 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations; and which of the formations will be paramount will depend on the team's defensive or offensive disposition!

In conclusion, with a well-knit defensive organisation, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, would most likely achieve their objectives in 2021 and beyond. This is the expectation. Nothing else would satisfy Nigerians. Given the Super Eagles' potentials, it is doable!!!!!!

UP SUPER EAGLES ! UP NIGERIA !!!!!!!!!

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "Cameroun 2021" !!!!!

https://teespring.com/stores/super-eagles-of-nigeria

The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary

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