Sunday, March 24, 2024
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he 2-1 victory over Ghana's "Black stars", certainly didn't come on a platter. It was a hard fought- out victory. And, certainly, an 'indirect'' auditioning for the job of Super Eagles' gaffer for Coach Finidi George.

Consequently, he gave it all the seriousness it deserved, by fielding essentially a strong team. There was not much room for fringe players.

The team played in a 3-5-2 formation; an adaptation/modification of the 3-4-3 formation used at AFCON 2023. Coach Finidi George decided to tweak the basic 3-4-3 formation, to make room for more offensive soccer, in comparison to the tactic of AFCON 2023; which with benefit of hindsight, was the Super Eagles' strength( in the great run to the AFCON final); and, at the same time, the main cause of their failure in the final match of AFCON 2023. We shall discuss the Super Eagles tactical set-up against Ghana, later on in this piece.

Goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was in goal; and put up a five-star performance. Kudos to him!

The three central defenders were:

Benjamin Tanimu, right-halfback- he gave a good impression for a debutant;

Chidozie Awaziem, centre-halfback - he marshalled the defence beautifully in the match;

Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, alias the "The gentleman giant", was at left-halfback. He was as usual brilliant as central defender.

The five-man midfield consisted :

" The dazzling" Bright Osayi-Samuel, right wing-back and Bruno Onyemaechi, left wing-back. They did well as wing-backs; fulfilling their role in the classical sense: defending their lines, when the Super Eagles were under pressure and providing the necessary width in attack, as pseudo-wingers, when the Super Eagles were on the offensive.

And also:

Wilfred Ndidi, alias "the baggy-bagger"or "Ndidi bus-stop", defensive midfielder, he did very well, and showed us why he was missed at the AFCON tournament;

Frank "The tank" Onyeaka, defensive midfielder, also did excellently well in his role and

Alex Iwobi, alias "The dancing Krekel", offensive mid-fielder, he had a superb game, and showed that his not-too-impressive AFCON showing, was because of Coach Peseiro's tactical set-up, and not due to any loss of form.

The two-man striking partnership consisted:

Kelechi Iheanacho, alias "Senior man", supporting striker, he did well and Cyriel Dessers, deepest striker, he also did well. He scored the first goal for the Super Eagles.

The substitutes:

Simon Moses, alias the "Atilogwu dancer"; Raphael Onyedika; Jamilu Collins and Ademola Lookman, who got the sumptuous second goal, all did well.

Tactical analysis :

As earlier mentioned, Coach Findi Geroge used the 3-5-2 formation. This was an adaptation of the 3-4-3 formation used at AFCON 2023. By so doing, he made more room for offensive soccer, which aligns more with the DNA of the Super Eagles players and the team! He used a twin-strikers' partnership that ensured there was no lone deepest striker usually marooned in an island between an array of opposing defenders, as we saw of Victor Osimhen at AFCON 2023. By so doing, he made striking much easier for the Super Eagles strikers, and, consequently, their productivity increased.

Also, there was increased mobility on the part of the players. They built up confidently from the defence, through the mid-fied to the attack. They played confidently as a team! They didn't sit back like in AFCON, soaked up pressure from their opponents, and only hit back on the counter. There were rather more proactive in their tactical organisation!

Coach Finidi George, also, tweaked his formation from 3-5-2 to 3-4-3, in the dying minutes of the game, apparently, to take advantage of the spaces that came out in the Ghanaian defence, as the Ghanaians poured forward massively looking for the equaliser, with scores then at 1-0, in favour of Nigeria. He did this by introducing Ademola Lookman, a striker, in the place of Benjamin Taminu, a defender.

This tactical re-adjustment paid off handsomely with the second goal of the match to Nigeria. As Nigeria maximally exploited the spaces in the Ghananian defence, in a swift counter, that resulted in Nigeria's second goal, through Ademola Lookman.

In conclusion:

The sum total of Nigeria's tactical set-up, was that they defended well, and, also, attacked well! Thus, we saw a very thrilling, and tactical encounter, with a deserved victory as a result.

A very big kudos to Coach Finidi George for his successful tactical organisation of the team. Certainly, a big improvement from what we saw in AFCON 2023.



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The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa" and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era" can also be gotten through me using my e-mail address as contact point. [email protected]