Friday, July 12, 2019

t was an epic battle of two titans of African soccer. The South-Africans can now be categorised as "African soccer titans" considering their displays at the AFCON 2019! A team that eliminated the hosts; a team of the calibre of Egypt, cannot but be classified as a titan of African soccer!

The match more especially towards the dying stages was nerve-pulsating! It was in staked contrast with the earlier stages of the game, when the Super Eagles in their attractive 4-3-3 formation, took control of the match from the blast of the referee's whistle and pressurised the South-African incessantly.

However, in the later stages of the match, the South-Africans took control of the game and pressurised the Super Eagles. Coach Rohr, in my considered opinion, didn't react quickly enough to the reality of the game at this time. He should have substituted Odion Ighalo, who was tightly marked and, consequently, whose productivity diminished as the game wore on, with a mid-fielder; and, consequently, changed the team's formation from 4-3-3 to a more mid-field- oriented 4-4-2 formation. Alex Iwobi, in this new tactic, in addition to his mid-field role, could be asked to play as a "shadow striker" or "false number 9", in place of Odion Ighalo. That way the Super Eagles of Nigeria would have killed two birds with one stone: staving off the mid-field control of the South-Africans, by having more men in mid-field( four instead of the original three-man mid-field) and at the same time, continuing to put pressure on their defence, this time with a "shadow" number 9! This new tactical scenario might have prevented the South-African equaliser, which came as a consequence of an infringement committed, no thanks to the increased South-African pressure; as a result of their then mid-field dominance!

Also, the replacement of Ahmed Musa, was surprising. The soccer commentators who commented the match on the channel where one watched the game, were equally surprised!

Anyhow, the above remarks about Coach Rohr's tactical choices, are done from the point of view of "idealism" with regards soccer tactics. The decisions in these regards are entirely Coach Rohr's!

How did the Super Eagles players perform?

Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, was ok in the match. He didn't pull off any fantastic saves, thanks to a well-knit defence under leadership of "Field Marshall" Kenneth Omeruo. However, with regards the balls he had to deal with, he did a good job of it. Congratulations to him!

The defence line was better organised than in the encounter against the Camerounians! It was well-knit!!!!

Chidozie Awaziem, at right-back, was good. He has certainly fitted well to the right-back position, in comparison with the first match against Burundi. He even shook off a potentially 'deadly' tackle by an overzealous South-African, to continue to be of service to his fatherland in the encounter! Congratulations to him!

Jamilu Collins, at left-back, was ok. He did his best, but one noticed he showed a bit of match rustiness, occasioned by lack of Nations' cup match rhythm, occasioned by being left out of the team at the inception of AFCON 2019, no thanks to illness. Hopefully, over ninety minutes of a pulsating encounter with the South-Africans, will help him get the much- needed Nations' cup match rhythm. If that happens, we shall see those beautiful overlapping runs down the left flank, which he is known for; and which as a natural left footer, will bring more depth to the Super Eagles' attack from the left side. Congratulations to him for his efforts!

William Troost-Ekong, alias "Rock of Gibralter", was solid as centre-halfback; and worked together with "Field Marshall" Kenneth Omeruo, in providing leadership to a solid back four. He scored the winning second goal for Nigeria! Congratulations to him!

"Field Marshall" Kenneth Omeruo, was the leader at the back; the defence marshal! He led the back four with distinction and dexterity! Congratulations to him!

Etebo Oghenekaro, alias "Turbo Engine", was solid as defensive/central mid-fielder. He has certainly grown to be an unmissable asset in the Super Eagles' mid-field. His fantastic free kick, certainly a big improvement from his efforts in previous matches, is noteworthy! Congratulations to him!

Wilfred Ndidi, alias the "baggy bagger", was solid as box-to-box player in mid-field! He is a huge asset in the Nigerian mid-field! Congratulations to him!

Alex Iwobi, alias the "dancing Krekel", had a good game; and is gradually developing to be the "icon" of the Super Eagles' mid-field, thus, following in the footsteps of his uncle: the legendary Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha! Congratulations to him!

Samuel Chukwueze, alias "El Fantastico" or the fantastic one, was marvellous in his displays. He scored the first goal of the match for Nigeria! The young man has within a short time, become a regular player for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He is deservedly, according to yours sincerely, "the man-of- the match"!!!!! A big congratulations to him!

Odion Ighalo, alias "Top 9", was ok; he had a hard time with the South-African defenders who employed all tactics - conventional and unconventional- to stop him! He did his best under the circumstances. Congratulations to him!

The Stand-in Skipper, the "Supersonic jet-heeled" Ahmed "Mansa" Musa, was fantastic in the match! Apart from playing a great game, he was a good leader of the team, on the field of play! Congratulations to him!

The substitutes were super for the relatively short period of time they played. One recognises the efforts of Moses Simon, alias the "Atilogwu dancer" and "Commander- General" Leon Balogun! Coach Rohr, used the introduction of "Commander-General" Leon Balogun, to close 'shop' and defend the 2-1 lead. A very big congratulations to both substitutes!!

In conclusion, Nigerians and all other Super Eagles' supporters are solidly behind the Super Eagles of Nigeria, as the Nations' cup competition, gets to the most crucial of crucial stages!


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