FEATURE ARTICLE

Saturday, June 4, 2022
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
NIGERIA 0, ECUADOR 1: AN UNDESERVED/UNDESERVING DEFEAT TO THE SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA

he Super Eagles of Nigeria lost their second friendly match to Ecuador, by the oddest of margins, in New Jersey, United states of America.

It was a most undeserved/undeserving of defeats, considering the run of play! The Ecuadoreans were by no means better than even the 'experimental' Super Eagles of Nigeria.

As was the case in the first match, the Super Eagles started the match with a rather 'lukewarm' approach to the match, in their 4-4-2 formation. They went to 'sleep' very early in the day, as it were, and allowed their opponents take the initiative and, consequently, possession of the ball, and played it around to their own advantage. Like in the first match, they were woken up from their 'slumber', by the opponents' first goal, in the third minute of play!

They subsequently reacted by taking the game to their opponents. The Super Eagles had their first clear-cut chance, in the 13th minute, when Terem Morfi, was sent through with a clear- cut through pass deep into the opponents' territory. He was confronted by the alert Ecuadorean goalkeeper; and the resultant clash between them, was adjudged not to have been a penalty against Ecuador!

In the 18th minute, another clear-cut and creative pass, was sent through the path of striker Cyriel Dessers, deep into the opponents' territory. His effort was smothered by the alert Ecuadorean goalkeeper, who parried the ball to corner. The resultant corner kick caused a goalmouth melee, which was not utilised by the Nigerians.

With these efforts the Super Eagles launched themselves back into reckoning and started dictating the pace of the game. But all to no avail. The first half ended 1-0, in favour of their opponents.

In the second half, the Super Eagles' blitz continued, but the myriad of opportunities created by them, were fluffed; due to lack of clinical finishing! The Super Eagles became more daring in their new formation : 4-3-3 and later on 4-2-4. Also Defender Chidozie Awaziem, was replaced by Ola Aina, at right back, apparently, for more defensive stability and more overlapping/footballing ability down the right flank, in their then more offensive approach to the game. Also the home-based player, Sani Faisal, who played as defensive mid-fielder in the first half, was replaced by Emmanuel Dennis. Apparently, the game was of a higher standard than he was used to.

Unfortunately, the Super Eagles lost again after ninety-four minutes of action.

In conclusion,

After two friendly games in charge, Coach Peseiro, should by now be making a balance sheet of the Super Eagles' performances thus far:

The Super Eagles should be alert to the game from the very first minute and should not allow their opponents take the initiative; and 'wake' them up with an early lead. Such early leads, as we saw in the last two games, can be decisive!;

Secondly, the defenders, should be alert to their responsibilities, at all times. When a ball is lobbed into your territory in any circumstance and, more especially, in a set piece situation, basic defensive instinct demands that all the defenders, both orthodox and circumstantial defenders, due to tactical dictates, should be alert to the movements of their opponents, at all times, while also keeping an eye on the ball! Needless saying, all the conventional and unconventional defenders, should mark their opponents out on a "one-on-one " basis! Giving space to the opponents in such a situation, can be 'suicidal'!;

Thirdly, the Super Eagles players should be much more clinical with the way they try to take their chances in the opponents' territory! Against a good opponent, such chances don't come often. Being careless in such circumstances, could make a difference between a win and a loss!;

Fourthly, set pieces should be better utilised by the Super Eagles. One noticed that most of them were fluffed in the matches against Mexico and Ecuador! They can make a difference in many a match situation!

With regards the line-up against Sierra-Leone, one normally leaves the initiative to the coach. But If I might make some suggestions based on the last two matches:

Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, should be in goal. He certainly earned his stripes in the last two matches;

The defensive department, is somewhat worrisome. But for the next match, the defence in the second half of the match against Ecuador, can be maintained;

The mid-field needs a better defensive mid-fielder. One hopes Wilfred Ndidi, would be available. A good defensive mid-fielder, can be the bull work/ strong pillar or fulcrum, on which the mid-field revolves! The Super Eagles missed a good defensive mid-fielder in the last two games! Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo, as offensive mid-fielders are good. Alex Iwobi, however, should be more clinical in his passing. As a creative mid-fielder, this is of utmost importance!;

The Super Eagles should play in their more naturally/DNA -endowed offensive formation; by using the wings maximally! In the last two matches, the Super Eagles played better when the wings were utilised; albeit not maximally! In this wise, yours sincerely, recommends the use Simon Moses and another conventional winger down the wings. And Victor Oshimen, preferably, as centre-forward.

Needless saying that from the above tactical recommendations of mine, one expects the Super Eagles to play in a 4-3-3 formation! But a flexible one that also ensures adequate defensive cover, in a 4-5-1 formation, when under pressure from the opponents.

We all wish the Super Eagles well!

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

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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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