Monday, July 1, 2019

he score of Nigeria 0, Madagascar 2, is a score line only but a few could have predicted going into the match -up between Nigeria and Madagascar. It is the most shocking result of the AFCON 2019 thus far; and may well be the most shocking result of the tournament!

How are the mighty fallen? Why did this happen to the Super Eagles in the match- up against Madagascar? Why have the Super Eagles been unconvincing so far in the AFCON 2019?

One can go on and on asking these critical questions. But truth be told: the Super Eagles of Nigeria, have thus far, in the AFCON 2019, failed to meet up to expectations, notwithstanding the six points garnered from two unconvincing victories against Burundi and Guinea, and the concomitant qualification for the knock-out phase of the AFCON! The team has failed to measure up to expectations.

What can we attribute the not convincing performance of the Super Eagles so far?

Me thinks the players sharpness and alertness is questionable. A question of a rather long season the players had at their various clubs before the AFCON? Or is it a case of a very heavy training schedule, which complicates the stamina problems of the players, more especially taking into consideration the rather long and demanding soccer season at their various club sides? Or rather, lack of adaptability to the very hot Egyptian weather at this time of the year?

There is also the "inherent problems" of the Super Eagles: inability to play football and the concomitant lack of / paucity of creativity in their game. The Super Eagles players cannot make three passes without losing possession of the ball! As a consequence of lack of creativity/ paucity of - , making the final defining pass in the last third of an opponents' goal area becomes difficult! The problem becomes much more complicated against a tight-defending team, even if that team is a lowly rated team. Like we saw in the game against Madagascar: a team rated 104 in the world, holding a team rated 46 in the world to ransom!

The above is your sincerely's candid opinion about the possible reasons for Nigeria's under-performance thus far. There may be other unknown reasons.

Going forward, have the Super Eagles of Nigeria any chance of going far in the competition?

Me thinks yes, notwithstanding the loss to Madagascar and the concomitant consequence of coming second in the group.

What can be done to help the team?

Firstly, Coach Rohr, needs to give the players at least a day 's rest, free from any kind of soccer activities, between now and the second round match. The players can use the period to relax and "recharge their batteries"! This was the initiative Coach Zinedine Zidane used to get the rather tired Real Madrid players to recharge before the Champions' league final match against Atletico Madrid, in 2017! He even encouraged the players to take a short vacation, the management of Real Madrid found the initiative strange, as they had expected the players to be in camp for the Champions' league final match. But Coach Zidane had other ideas and it worked magic for Real Madrid, as they won the final match 4-1 against their opponents!

Secondly, Coach Rohr should reflect carefully on his tactical choices before the second round match. If he goes for a 4-3-3 formation or it's derivative, the full -backs, would be expected to join the attack maximally in an offensive disposition; in addition to their defensive responsibilities. This would require full-backs who would overlap maximally( joining the attack), and provide the necessary width in attack: crossing or lobbing purposely into the opponents eighteen yard box. This would preferable be done by full backs who are right-footed on right side of attack or left-footed on the left side of attack. Specifically, Ola Aina, should be brought to the right-back position and Jamilu Collins brought to the left-back position.

Kenneth Omeruo should be brought back to the central defence.

If on the other hand, Coach Rohr, goes for the 3-5-2 formation against a tougher second round opponent, he would no doubt use the known three- some central defenders. His five-man mid-field should preferably have : Wilfred Ndidi; Ola Aina/ Jamilu Collins; Etebo Oghenekaro; Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze, for the needed creativity! He could use the striking pair of: Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo.

The choice of formation and players, is entirely Coach Rohr's! Yours sincerely is merely trying to help Nigeria navigate a fairly difficult situation and have a better Nations' cup performance.

In conclusion, Nigerians should not lose heart or - faith in the Super Eagles. That is how it sometimes goes in soccer. Soccer can be unpredictable! Me thinks if the lessons of the last matches of the Super Eagles are learnt, and properly harnessed, the Super Eagles would go far in the AFCON tournament. Nigerians are fighters and the nation expects nothing less from the Super Eagles of Nigeria, at AFCON 2019!


Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "EGYPT 2019" !!!!!


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