Sunday, June 10, 2018
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Nigeria's defender Bryan Idowu vies for the ball with Vladimir Coufal of Czech Republic during the international friendly football match between Nigeria and Czech Republic in Rannersdorf, Austria on June 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO

he defeat of the Super Eagles of Nigeria by the national team of Czechoslvakia, was as revealing as it was exciting! The Super Eagles' coach: Gernot Rohr, having seen the matches played by the Super Eagles in the nearly two years that he has been in charge; and, particularly, in the last six friendly matches against world class opposition, would by now have started making out what kind of strategy/strategies he would use at the World cup competition. With that mind set, he would beat the Super Eagles into shape before the world cup's opener against Croatia.

Your sincerely saw the match against the Czechs thus:

The Goalkeeper: Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, with his exposure in the last six friendly matches, has certainly gotten his baptism of fire, between the sticks for Nigeria. Having closely observed him in those matches, one thinks he is ready to be Nigeria's number one goalkeeper at the World cup. No fears should be entertained for him, with regards experience or whatever so-called disadvantages. The young man is ready to take up responsibility as number one goalkeeper at the World cup competition. Nigerians should be rest assured!

The Defenders: The Super Eagles played in a more defensive 5-3-2 formation. Notwithstanding this fact, they still conceded a goal that gave victory to the Czechs. The point to be made here is that, regardless of the formation a team employs, no matter how defensive in nature, if the defenders lose even a second's concentration, against a world class opposition, they would certainly be made to pay the price! The Czechs didn't defeat Nigeria on account of some superior display, but on account of one second's loose of concentration in the vital area - the six yard box for that matter!!!!!! The Super Eagles' defenders should be very careful to avoid these kinds of mistakes at the World cup competition. One is sure Coach Rohr, being the perfectionist he is, will certainly hammer home this point to them!

The Mid-fielders: The Super Eagles had a decent measure of ball possession, certainly not inferior to the Czech's. But with that level of ball possession, they created very few chances. What went wrong? Me thinks the mid-fielders' inability to take more risks by sometimes directly taking on the Czechs was responsible for the inability to sometimes give that 'killer' last pass or penetrating pass or defence-splitting pass, with which the attackers could have made hay! In order words, giving a good pass in central mid-field is ok, but against a compact-playing team like the Czechs, the mid-fielders needed to take more risks to rattle them. More over in the process of directly taking on their opponents, they could be fouled, which may result in a penalty or dangerous free-kick, or they could liberate themselves and shoot for goal! In order words, the Super Eagles' mid-fielders wouldn't have lost anything by taking more risks. Even if they were dispossessed of the ball in the process, that wouldn't have been bad. This should be a lesson for the World cup!

The Attackers: They did their best under more difficult circumstances. The 5-3-2 formation, is defensive in nature. It compromises wing play to a certain extent. To compensate for this slight deficiency in a team's offensive prowess through the wings, the full backs are supposed to overlap maximally to give the necessary width in attack. In order words, they are supposed to function like 'pseudo wingers'! But in that game, the fullbacks didn't carry out that aspect of their responsibility to the letter. This certainly hampered the offensive play of Nigeria, and, certainly contributed to the fewer chances that were created. Also in this formation, the attackers are supposed to exhibit much more mobility upfront to compensate for the absence of wingers, in addition to positioning themselves well to make hay, when the opportunity presents itself( more responsibility for the attackers in a 5-3-2 formation). Victor Moses carried out this responsibility with dexterity; but Odion Ighalo, was slightly less efficient. This may be because of his natural style of play. Odion Ighalo, is best in his elements, if he receives supplies from the wings, like a typical centre-forward. But in a 5-3-2 formation, he has to improvise! He should adapt fast to this style of play in a 5-3-2 formation.

In conclusion, the last six friendly matches played, though not impressive, will certainly serve as a useful learning phase for the team. Coach Rohr, one is sure, will not fail to seize the opportunity!

Yours sincerely believes in these Super Eagles!

"Anyi bu nkwa!" "Iseeeehhhh!"



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